Dude Looks Like a Republican: NY Dems Running to Lose?
UPDATE: I am told that it is NOT the Suffolk Dems who are screwing up by running a Republican, but the State level Dems. THAT is a real problem because if the State level Dems are running to lose then we are in real trouble. I wonder how the Suffolk County Dems feel about this?
UPDATE: I am also told that the strategy of running a Repub as a Dem has failed in Suffolk County before. Yet further evidence that this is a losing strategy.
For years the Democrats ran a losing strategy of running further and further to the right. The Democratic Party became so spooked by Ronald Reagan's success that they all but dressed in Reagan masks to try and look more like Reagan. And through all those years the Dems lost big time. The Democratic establishment at the time forgot that the true appeal of Ronald Reagan was not really his vague, conservative aphorisms, but his genuine personality and his ability to reach the voters like a kind uncle. The Republicans were so successful with the Reagan mystique that they STILL try to put on their Reagan masks every election. But it worked for the Republicans. It never worked for the Dems because what voters want is a genuine choice, not a Democratic Party that tries to package itself as kinder, gentler Republicans. Hell, that strategy didn't even work for a Republican! The era of the Daschle-led, Republican Lite failures need to be abandoned if we want to win. That has become blatantly obvious.
Times have changed. Starting with Howard Dean and moving on through the great successes of 2006 and beyond, Democrats are no longer so eager to brand themselves as Republican Lite. The truth is, and it can be shown scientifically (see The Political Brain), Democrats almost invariably win if they run on true, FDR-style Democratic values and have enough money to get that message out. Democrats usually lose if they try to put on the Reagan mask.
The NY State Dems (not the Suffolk County Dems as I first reported) seem to have missed the memo. They seem to be clinging to a now discredited strategy of running as Republicans and have, in fact, taken the strategy one step further: they want to run a Republican repackaged as a Democrat!
That's right. The NY Dem establishment wants to recruit a disgruntled Republican, Chris Bodkin, as a Democrat.
Sometimes a moderate Republican genuinely sees the light and switches parties. Arianna Huffington was a true Gingrich Republican until she saw what Republicans actually did when they got power. She was so disgusted by the Gingrich Congress that she abandoned the Republican Party.
Chris Bodkin isn't like that. He hasn't seen the light. He has only seen opportunity. Bodkin has supported Republicans consistently from Nixon to George W. Bush himself. He is a Bush Republican, plain and simple. Problem is he wants to be a State Senator and the incumbent Republican, Cesar Trunzo, refuses to retire. Trunzo is over 80 years old, but still wants to cling to his Senate seat. Bodkin was expecting to run this year as a Republican. His fury at being forced to delay until the next time has driven him to leave the Republican Party and run as a Democrat. No change of ideology. No disillusionment with the Nixon-Bush-Cheney Republican agenda. Merely fury at Trunzo for not getting out of his way.
Fine. If Bodkin wants to have his hissy fit and run, let him run as an Independent. But the NY Dem establishment are welcoming him with open arms as a Democrat even though he has never supported a Democrat in his life and has never expressed anything but support for Bush. Not only is this just plain morally wrong, but it is precisely the losing strategy that Democrats need to stop.
I have occasionally supported converted Republicans as Democrats. Usually this is in cases where the converted Republican really has had a change of heart and can bridge the liberal-conservative divide as a true moderate and when there is no viable TRUE Democrat as an alternative.
Neither is the case here. Bodkin has had no change of heart, he is merely a cynical opportunist. And there is a viable alternative, Jimmy Dahroug who did well in 2006 and who has been raising money like crazy for a rematch against Trunzo in 2008. The establishment Dems are running a losing strategy of backing a Republican rather than back the progressive.
Here is Jimmy Dahroug's response to the news that the NY Dem establishment want to run a losing strategy:
Dahroug Draws Line in Sand - Calls out Republican Turncoat
Brentwood, NY-February 20, 2008-Yesterday morning Jimmy Dahroug responded swiftly to life-long Republican Chris Bodkin's potential State Senate primary, with an email rallying over 5,000 supporters, grassroots activists and donors.
Dahroug has built a formidable grassroots network and raised $100,000 nearly a year before the general election. In 2006, Dahroug gave Trunzo his closest race in 30 years. The full email text is below:
I'm writing today to let you know that I have a potential Republican challenger.
"Uh, Jimmy. . . ." you might say slowly, as if I've been hit in the head with a blunt object. "That's old news. Trunzo's been the incumbent for, what, 30 years?"
But I'm not talking about the incumbent.
I'm talking about Chris Bodkin, a lifelong Republican who was gearing up to run on the GOP ticket if Senator Trunzo had retired. But Trunzo didn't retire.
So, Bodkin has decided to run as a newly-minted "Democrat"!
"He's wanted to be a senator for a long time," said Trunzo. "I guess he couldn't wait for me to retire." (Newsday, Feb. 17, 2008)
Chris Bodkin has devoted his whole life to supporting Republican politicians from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush to Trunzo himself.
Like me, I'm sure you have trouble believing that a right-wing Republican can change his ideologies as easily as he can switch parties on paper. However, some of the party establishment in Albany are behind him.
As much as I respect many of our party leaders, the American people have shown that we are ready for a more courageous party, one that does not simply toe the line to right-wing dogma.
The party elite in Albany are sending a top-down message that a Republican masquerading as a Democrat is the best that we can hope for.
Today, I'm asking you to stand up and send a message that you deserve to hope for more.
Regardless of the amount, every dollar is a vote of confidence in our shared values and ideals.
More than ever, this race has become a battle for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. At a time when Democrats across the country are demanding real change, this is a frightened and bewildering step backwards for our party.
We have to ask ourselves: What kind of a Democratic Senate Majority will we have if we elect a Bush Republican who recently became a "Democrat"?
I think you and I both know the answer.
For 36 years, we've had a Republican representing this district in Albany. Let's not table the real issues of this election for another 30 or 40 years by electing another Republican!
Democratic values are at the core of who I am. My mother is a bus driver. My father washed dishes and worked as a cab driver. Standing up for regular people is my life's work. It's what the Democratic party is - and should be - all about.
Nearly a year before this race, your support helped us raise $100,000 and build a formidable grassroots movement. Please don't wait - by making a contribution today, you will send a message that we are ready for a real Democratic Majority!
By my desk is a photo of John Kennedy and LBJ that I look at everyday. They inspire me. They were Real Democrats.
Thank you for considering this message, and, as always, thank you for your support.