The City of Niagara Falls played host to a multitude of Democrat Party bosses from around the state, including several upstate senators, who came to cast ballots in a “straw poll,” this weekend.
Shockingly—no, stunningly!—Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Boy Cuomo won lopsided victories. The suspense in the room must have been palpable.
Anyway, something calling itself the “Rural Democratic Conference,” which, we suppose, is kind of like the Republican Hip-Hop Caucus—in other words, a very small gathering of people whose influence on the core of their party is nil, and whose organization’s name is designed more for PR value and shock purposes—gathered together in the blighted urban landscape of Niagara Falls, to hear from such rural leaders as Antoine Thompson*.
But buried in all the glowing, unquestioning press coverage, like this hard-hitting piece from the Buffalo News, was what should have been the real story: State Senate President Pro Tem promising a tainted, partisan redistricting process if Democrats manage to hang onto their one-senator majority this fall.
We actually read Smith’s words in a Downstate publication, apparently because local media was too busy lining up for free cocktail weenies and samples from the Niagara Wine Trail to notice. We reproduce Malcolm’s verbal diarrhea here for anyone who doubts the stakes in this November’s election—especially if they will have the honor of helping to turn out Senator Bill Stachowski (who was on hand to applaud Smith’s remarks):
“With the Democrats in control of the State Senate, we are going to draw the lines so that Republicans will be in oblivion in the state of New York for the next 20 years,” Smith said, as applause whipped up through the proudly partisan crowd at the Crowne Plaza in Niagara Falls.
Just in case anyone is unclear here: Malcolm Smith just said he plans to do a partisan gerrymander. There will be no attempt to draw lines that are fair. There will be no attempt to draw lines that allow Upstaters to send representatives to Albany who will fight for the Upstate.
Instead, if Malcolm Smith has his way, we can expect more Antoine Thompsons holding sway over public policy, and more Bill Stachowskis sleepwalking their way to retirement. Moreover, though, we can expect a tainted process that will perpetuate this representation imbalance:
*Incidentally, the only authentically rural member of the entire Senate Democratic majority, Darrel Aubertine, who used to actually milk cows, decided to take a pass on this event. Not that his absence makes Antoine Thompson and Bill Stachowski any less authentic as rural Democrats.