Sad but True News
GOP blunders won't help Sweeney's re-election bid Our view: Republicans should be red with embarrassment over conduct.
Published on 4/5/2006 Editorials THE POST-STAR
If Republicans don't want to lose their local seat in Congress, then Rep. John Sweeney is going to have to find a way to wrest the stupid pills away from some of his more outspoken supporters. These supporters' ham-handed attempts to brand political neophyte Kirsten Gillibrand as a Commie and a carpetbagger are hurting the congressman's chances for what should be an easy re-election bid. Voters of this district deserve a real campaign, based on a legitimate debate over issues. Phony attempts like this to discredit an opponent not only hurt the candidate, but insult the voters' intelligence and denigrate the entire office. Whether you support Congressman Sweeney or not, whether you agree with his positions or not, or whether you think he spends too much time skiing with lobbyists or not, he certainly has a record he could defend in a fair fight with a worthy opponent. He has carried the ball in Congress on a number of important local projects, including the Exit 18 corridor expansion, the North Creek-Gore Mountain development, Warren County airport improvements, Saratoga County water project and expansion of rail service in the Adirondacks. He has also been able to secure a lot of federal money for the district. To what degree you think he has been effective is up to you. But one thing is clear: If he doesn't take control of this campaign, he's not going to be around much longer to be any good to anyone. Consider the latest "help" the congressman has received from fellow Republicans. On Monday, the National Republican Congressional Committee suggested that Gillibrand may be "in cahoots with Communists," based on some obscure article in a socialist newspaper. This is 2006, not 1954. Didn't Republicans learn anything from Joe McCarthy's witch hunt? Besides, communists in our midst are hardly considered a threat these days. Do they think voters are stupid enough to be swayed by such an allegation? And, seriously, who uses the phrase, "in cahoots," anymore? In trying to paint Gillibrand as a political carpetbagger, 10 Republican Party chairmen put out a press release demanding she "clear the air" about whether she really lives in New York City. Fact is, Gillibrand works out of her law firm's Albany office and has voted regularly from her legal residence in Hudson since 2003. How does spreading a false statement about an opponent, then getting caught in an easily verifiable lie, help the congressman's campaign? In addition, Republicans have resorted to name-calling (leftist, liberal), guilt by association (tying Gillibrand to the Enron scandal by linking her law firm to one of the scandal's minor players), and accusing Gillibrand of having lunch with a lobbyist (!) -- her father. When you do stuff like this, it just makes you look desperate. And given the congressman's many advantages in this election -- voter enrollment, campaign finances and incumbency among them -- there's no need for him or his supporters to act desperate. Congressman Sweeney, Republicans and all voters in the 20th District would be better served by a vigorous, straightforward debate on the issues, one that avoids the kind of gimmicks and blunders that have so far only served to cheapen this election.Link