Ask me anything... within reason
If you’ve forgotten why politics is busted, the NY Democratic primary for Senate is a handy refresher. To review: moderate-liberal Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, an underimpressive upstate ex-Congresswoman appointed by bumbling Gov. Paterson, may be challenged by the glib-but-evasive, moderate-conservative ex-Congressman Harold Ford, who lost a 2006 Senate race in his home state of Tennessee and then moved to NY.
So where is this race being decided? Have a peek:
Nowhere is the intensity of the clash between Ms. Gillibrand and Mr. Ford more evident than inside Manhattan’s sprawling penthouses and boardrooms, where wealthy families and titans of finance are being stroked, wooed and pressured to choose sides in what could be the marquee political battle of 2010.
While Ford has been justly derided as a pampered douche who spends his days riding limos to MSNBC and pricey midtown restaurants (“when I am in town”), Gillibrand plays on identical turf:
The senator and her would-be challenger have reached out to New York’s most influential Democratic contributors, sometimes within hours of each other. One Democratic donor received a call from Ms. Gillibrand one day and was invited to dine with Mr. Ford at the Four Seasons the next.
But why on earth is the Democratic party giving us a choice between two pro-Wall Street candidates? This is the Senate seat formerly held by RFK, Pat Moynihan and Hillary Clinton. Shouldn’t liberal, blue-state New York be represented by someone who will help crack down on the finance industry’s abuses, not compete for its favor?
Both are eager to lock up a handful of the same big-name, deep-pocketed Democrats, like Robert Wolf, the chief executive of the United States investment banking division of UBS group…
In recent weeks, both Ms. Gillibrand and Mr. Ford have sought to portray themselves as allies of the financial industry, even as they acknowledge public outrage over extravagant executive compensation deals.
Whoever wins, we are the losers:
Mr. Ford, a vice chairman of Merrill Lynch, is promoting himself as unabashedly pro-business, calling for a big reduction in the corporate tax rate and for exempting many businesses from payroll taxes, while Ms. Gillibrand has expressed misgivings about a bank tax proposed by President Obama that is opposed by Wall Street firms.
It strikes me that Ford is perhaps too pro-Wall Street to be viable in a Democratic primary. I think he is positioning himself for an independent run against Gillibrand in November, with an Independence Party line facilitated by his Bloomberg allies, expecting to capture a good share of independents and Republicans (whose party has no good candidate, for the moment) and hope that rising tea-partyism carries him over the top.
Will a liberal Democrat please jump into this race so we aren’t stuck with either of these clowns?
(Douchebag badge via Foursquare)