Crooked politicians

My dad was a great man.  This diary is not about him, but I can’t write this without thinking about him as we approach the 10-year anniversary of his passing into a greater place.  He was a man of very few words.  A conversation amongst family could carry on for a long time before he would say anything.  Then, he would come out with a one-liner that would just shut everyone else up, as they reflected on the wisdom of it.

One thing I remember him saying:  ‘If a politician isn’t crooked before he gets elected, he ALWAYS is crooked after.’  It took me many years to understand what he means.  The process corrupts even the most honest person.

This diary is about betrayal.

Antoine Thompson was a crooked politician.  He is a long-time politician from Western New York who knew the game and played it.  He suffered a stunning defeat for the 60th NY State Senate seat, won by Democrat-turned-Republican Mark Grisanti.  In a district with a 104,000 / 22,000 Democrat/Republican advantage, this indeed was a squeaker for Mark Grisanti, who was finally declared winner by 525 votes four weeks after the election.

I met Mr. Grisanti in person June 12, 2010 at a well-attended ‘Meet the Candidates Night’ sponsored by TEANewYork.  He gave a rousing presentation and, among other things, stated he was unequivocally opposed to same-sex marriage in New York State.  No wishy-washy stuff there.  He said it, he meant it.  Bank on that, Buffalo.

There was another candidate at the same Meet-up, Marc Coppola. running for the same Senate seat.  He gave a decent presentation but had some unfavorable political history, as far as I was concerned.  As a voting member of TeaNewYork, I would have voted to endorse Coppola if Grisanti had not been so good.  Grisanti went on to win the TeaNewYork endorsement, and was the beneficiary of subsequent fundraisers and boots-on-the-ground campaigning from TeaNY members and supporters.

Same-sex marriage had come up in New York before.  The last time, in 2009, it was defeated in the Senate by a 38-24 vote.  Governor Andrew Cuomo made the issue one of his key initiatives (cuz NY doesn’t have any pressing fiscal stuff going on, ya know).  NY had a good chance to retake the Senate in 2010, and we TEANY people knew it.  The marriage question was a pivotal issue in selection of candidates, especially those running for NY Senate.

As noted above, the 525-vote margin win for Grisanti was a squeaker.  Every vote, every dollar, every phone call, every volunteer effort counted on election night.  Grisanti won that election in part because of his endorsement by TeaNewYork, and he won THAT endorsement because of his declaration against same-sex marriage.

This past Friday night, Senator Grisanti cast his vote in favor of same-sex marriage in NY.  I almost threw up when I saw his little speech before the vote.  He claims the amendment to protect religious institutions was the game changer for him.  After all, it was going to pass eventually, and religious institutions would not be so protected if it wasn’t for our great Senator Grisanti holding out until these clauses are in there.

Grisanti will almost certainly lose in the next election.  His tenure may very well have ended just by the number of D’s vs R’s anyways.  This vote, no matter how you feel about the issue, can be used by those both for and against gay marriage, as it goes to his integrity.  Politicians lie, we all know that.  But it isn’t always so easy to prove it.

While I have absolutely NO proof, my gut tells me Grisanti has some political future with dear NY leader Cuomo, who certainly can now claim this negotiating prize when he runs for president in 2016.

I don’t know, and I don’t care.  Mr. Grisanti – you lied, to my face, to those of us who endorsed you because of how you said you would vote on this issue.  The Buffalo News today quoted others, using words like courage, strength and integrity when describing you.  You, sir, have NONE of those qualities.  You are a liar.

Mr. Grisanti – I promise you this – I will work as hard, most likely harder, to elect another person for the Republican primary in the 60th NYS Senate seat.

Dad, as always, what you taught me rings true.  Miss ya.


P.S.  I love WNY – the people are real, good housing is inexpensive, the weather is nowhere near as bad as the national news makes it out to be, and there are some of the prettiest sights around.  Within an hour, usually less, I can get to Canada, wine country, mountains, lakes, rivers, bike trails, snow- and water-skiing, professional sports and world class art.  But when my family obligations no longer tie me here, I will be in the market for a new state.  It will hurt to leave.  Until then, I will continue trying to empty the ocean into the little hole in the sand, along with my few conservative friends.