Silver To Select Assembly Dems: Skip National Convention
You might recall reading recently about a growing number of Democratic House members who are taking a pass on the party’s national convention in North Carolina, preferring to stay home on concentrate on their own campaigns rather than attend the (mostly for show) re-nomination of President Obama.
The list of those eschewing the convention includes two New York Democrats – Reps. Kathy Hochul and Bill Owens – who are facing uphill re-election battles in newly-drawn districts that not only gave them new territories to learn, but also increased the number of enrolled Republicans in their respective constituencies.
Both Hochul and Owens were included on Hotline’s list of the nation’s 75 most competitive House races (released today). All told, there are eight New York seats in play.
DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, a Long Islander, not only condoned the decisions of Hochul and Owens to stay home rather than fete Obama, but also urged any other incumbents with tough races – not to mention challengers trying to help the party meet its goal of reclaiming the majority – to follow suit.
And Israel isn’t the only party leader urging members to put their own political priorities before a show of fealty to the national Democratic Party and its leader.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told me during a CapTon interview yesterday that he has also encouraged members of his conference who are facing primary challenges to consider skipping what’s essentially a three-day junket that features a lot of partying with some politics squeezed in.
(For the record, that’s my characterization of the convention, not Silver’s).
“There are a number of members who have primary elections, which will take place a week after the Democratic convention,” Silver said.
“So it would be my recommendation that they stay home and, you know, tell the public what they’ve been doing in Albany for two years. I think they have a great message, and the important thing is getting it out to their constituents.”
“In some districts, nobody pays attention until the summer is over…so you have that eight-day period after Labor Day until primary day. And that’s a significant time period. So it corresponds – at least the first few days – corresponds to the convention. And to those I have asked stay home and get your message out.”
“Others, it’s still a long way to November. I think they can use the time appropriately campaigning, but I don’t think it’s as pressing as the September primary.”
Silver declined to say how many seats he’s hoping to win back from the Republicans this fall to grow his already considerable majority.
The speaker has in the past deemed the so-called “veto-proof majority” (having enough members to guarantee overrides of a gubernatorial veto) a “fiction”, noting it’s not easy to get every single member of his conference to vote “yes” on controversial issues and see absolutely zero support from the Republicans.
Nevertheless, the speaker has proven quite aggressive and competitive in past elections, seeking to slim Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb’s ranks even further, despite the fact that the larger his conference grows, the harder it is to feed all those mouths.
On the flip side, the larger the conference, the more difficult it is for conference members to organize sufficient votes to overthrow the speaker – something Silver understands all too well.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on July 18, 2012 at 8:34 am, and is filed under Assembly, Barack Obama, Conventions, Democrats, Sheldon Silver, Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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