Sherman Says: Republican primary is invisible to voters
They will await the results of a primary being held June 26, the same day that David Bellavia and Chris Collins will face each other in a Republican contest for the right to challenge Kathy Hochul for re-election to the House of Representatives in November. In a Siena poll conducted in early May for the Senate primary, 67 percent of Republicans remain undecided. Fifteen percent said they would vote for Turner, 12 percent for Long and 6 percent for Maragos.
The reality of two early summer primaries for Western New York Republicans won’t do much for voter turnout. The date comes about a month after school budget votes, shortly after most graduation ceremonies, and eight days before the Fourth of July.
The House primary was made more interesting because of recent redistricting. Whoever wins the November election for Hochul’s seat will no longer be representing most of the same individuals when his or her term begins in January. It’s like being named captain of the hockey team and being traded before you have a chance to take a faceoff.
Meanwhile, Hochul can wait it out while Bellavia and Collins expend money and resources just to get the chance to run against her.
Gillibrand made a rare visit to Buffalo earlier this week, promoting education and job training for young veterans and methods to streamline certification processes for their applications for civilian jobs.
While she is an incumbent, Gillibrand has an advantage, in that none of her prospective opponents are from upstate New York. The primary is obscure enough around here that it makes the prospects for the fall campaign less stimulating. Gillibrand will use her time and money wisely on her opponent’s home turf and take a majority of the vote in Western New York for granted.
That’s been standard fare from our Senate delegation. Except for the safety issue after the tragedy of Flight 3407, we often find ourselves watching from the sidelines while senators Chuck Schumer and Gillibrand devote much of their energy to downstate issues and rallying the colors for Democratic presidents and almost presidential candidates.
So, despite the interest shown by more than one member of the GOP in both of these seats in Congress, the incumbents have the inside track. It would be valuable for the three Senate hopefuls to participate in a debate held west of the Finger Lakes to allow their potential Western New York constituents to make a more informed decision prior to the primary. Likewise, a debate between Bellavia and Collins some time during the next six weeks would be worthwhile.
Despite the primaries, these congressional races are not firing up voters in Western New York. We should be interested enough in our representation that even a three-way contest for a major party endorsement – long before the general election – steals our attention. After all, the potential for a coattail effect from the presidential race gives both Gillibrand and Hochul even greater appeal.
As for the GOP, party leaders had better find a way to draw voters to the voting booth next month. If they fail, they will need more than sunscreen to cover their embarrassment.
David F. Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers and a columnist for the Weekly Independent Newspapers of Western New York, a group of community newspapers with a combined circulation of 286,500 readers. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.