Anyone who knows me will tell you I love a good party … except when it comes to politics. Anyone who knows me will also tell you that I love observing politics, and the results of this off-year election have really made me wonder if we’re witnessing a new trend.
For a long time, I’ve felt that party affiliation shouldn’t come into play on the local level. In fact, I wrote about it two years ago when working for The Free Press in Kinston, N.C., when the issue of non-partisan voting there was a source of local conversation.
What’s interesting to me is the number of local candidates who actually lost their major party primaries in September but went on to win this month’s general election.
In Amsterdam, incumbent 2nd Ward Supervisor Barb Johnson lost the Democratic primary to Jeffrey Stark but was re-elected running on the Conservative Party line.
In Gloversville, Dayton King won the mayor’s seat as an independent after losing the Republican primary. Ironically, his GOP opponent, JoAnn Clear, finished second in that four-way race.
In Broadalbin, Joe DiGiacomo won the supervisor’s race on the Conservative line after losing to George Walters in September’s Republican primary. Same with Linda Kemper, who was re-elected as Northampton Town Supervisor on the Conservative Party line after failing to secure the GOP nomination against Northville Mayor Jim Groff.
Interestingly enough, in the town of Mohawk, Conservative Party candidate Gregory Rajkowski easily won the supervisor’s post there, beating out Republican Ray Tylutki and Democrat Wayne DeMallie.
Let’s also not forget the 23rd Congressional race in New York (I happen to live in this district) where Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman came out of nowhere, knocked the GOP candidate out of the race and came within a shorthair of beating the Nov. 3 winner, Bill Owens. As it turns out, that race may not be over, as a recount shows Hoffman gaining ground, to the point where Owens, who was already sworn in as this district’s congressman, may eventually have to be removed if Hoffman pulls this thing off.
For years, most of the calls for a viable third party have come from pundits and prognosticators who normally would be dismissed as being “on the fringe,” which is frankly a nice way of calling someone a kook.
But given the results of this latest election, I can’t help but think that maybe a move, albeit slight right now, away from the Republican and Democratic parties is starting to take wings.
Not that I would be opposed to that. I’ve always believed that real change starts at the local level, and I think the results of this last election show that major party politics isn’t necessarily a deciding factor in campaigns.
I’m well aware that there are other factors that come into play on the local level, such as who knows who and members of a certain party getting behind an “outsider” and the like. In politics, whether it’s local or national, there are always deals being made to keep certain people out of office, no matter what.
But I also think the seeds have been planted to move away from the traditional two-party system at all levels. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in years to come.