Election results reinforce difficulty for Democrats to win in Orleans County

Posted 7 November 2015 at 12:00 am


Reflecting on the recent election is somewhat painful for us Democrats. It may sting even more once the absentee ballots are counted. At this point, we know that two outstanding candidates, Don Organisciak and James White, were defeated even though great cases can be made for each of them.

It was the first electoral experience in the brutal arena of Orleans County politics for each of them. Being a four-time loser myself has gotten me used to it, but reality hit them like a train on night of Nov. 3.

That said, the candidacy of Randy Bower was a breath of fresh air for Orleans County. The Republican Party has long needed a focus on people. Bower is clearly a “people person” who appears to understand that those who hold office are there to serve all people.

As far back as 2004, when the legislative chairperson told me the only thing the people in Orleans County care about is the tax rate, the Republican Party has focused on property taxpayers as if they were the only ones who pay taxes.

Bower’s Republican roots and his primary victory made it possible for a message that Democrats haven’t been able to sell to finally become viable.

While any Republican primary winner is virtually guaranteed victory in Orleans County, the roads to, and from, the primary for sheriff produced a massive Republican voter turnout this year. When the Omniscient Oz decided to give the sheriff’s crown to Tom Drennan back in May during the Oz caucus, it finally backfired, even though Drennan was in most respects a great candidate.

Randy Bower’s people, said, in effect, “Not this time.” The Republican wizard wasn’t going to be able to take his subjects for granted this time. Bower forced a primary and won the all-important republican line by 21 votes on September 13th. A little over 30% of eligible republicans voted in the primary.

Normally, a Democrat, working with an enrollment base roughly half that of his/her Republican opponent, stands little chance of defeating the Wizard’s choice. Not enough people vote for the best candidate. They dutifully vote row B, just as the Wizard has trained them to. Of course the Wizard tells them who (he thinks) is best every year. This year, his choice wasn’t on row B. Such confusion!

One down side to what just happened is that two sets of coattails may have doomed some really capable down ballot candidates. It is likely that close to 50 percent of Republicans came out to vote due to interest in the sheriff’s race.

Many voted for Bower. Many left row B to vote for Tom Drennan. The problem for people like Darlene Benton and Bill Lattin is that, after voting for Tom, many Republican voters returned home to row B. Darlene and Bill were on row A. (Though John Belson of Yates enjoys a broad base of support and should probably not be pigeon-holed as an insider under the thumb of Apex, I imagine interest in the sheriff’s race boosted his vote total for the reason mentioned above.)

The Wizard should be careful what conclusions he reaches from the Yates results. Concluding that the town is divided roughly 50-50 on the wind turbine issue based on the results of this particular election could well be a mistake. One might even wonder how much closer the Johnson-Lauricella race would have been had the Omniscient Oz come out in favor of the proposed Apex project before the election.

Wouldn’t it be something if the Omniscient Oz eventually spun off into irrelevance as a consequence of casting his lot with something he vastly underestimates the significance of: industrial wind turbines. Of course, Oz may just be waiting for the right survey.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Kent