Niagara Gazette

Columns

February 17, 2014

CONFER: Move New York's primaries to June

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — But Republican leaders in the state Senate and the band of rogue Senate Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference want nothing to do with it. They want both the federal and state primaries to be held on the third Tuesday in August.

If that’s the GOP’s idea of a compromise, it’s a horrid one at best. The date is not really that far off from the current September primary and it's one that sets up boards of election for non-compliance and potential lawsuits from the federal government (not to mention slighting of our armed forces).

The Republicans’ proclaimed reasons for their date are a stretch. Tom O’Mara, R-Big Flats, the sponsor of the Senate bill, said a June primary would disrupt the final month of the legislative session in Albany. That’s a contorted way of implying that O’Mara and his peers are more interested in politicking than doing the peoples’ work, that there’s no way that they could do both.

Silly me, I thought results in the legislative chamber and in your district were the best way to ensure your job, not self-promoting showmanship on the airwaves and $100-a-plate dinners. But I guess O’Mara and his peers don’t see it that way. They would rather be out rubbing elbows than doing the job they are paid $79,500 (plus numerous stipends) to do.

The self-preservation doesn’t end there. The Senate plan, like our current September set-up, benefits those in power and would continue to be a key driver of an incumbency rate that normally exceeds 90 percent in the state legislature. 

Typically, incumbents remain uncontested in primaries because they have name recognition and the support of their party leaders. Why rock the boat?

Challengers from other parties, on the other hand, aren’t afforded such a smooth ride. They typically square off in primaries that drain finances and energy. With the conclusion of the September primary (or what could be an August primary), the victors don’t have the momentum or finances (both have been wiped out) to stage an all-out war against the incumbent in that two-month time frame.

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