Sunday, November 12, 2006

2006 Election Review: For Shame!

It was an exciting night last Tuesday, election night. The sweet smell of change was in the air from Florida, to Ohio, to Missouri, and to Montana. Even here in the Empire State, the election of Eliot Spitzer seemed to indicate that this great state may finally be on the home stretch of the long road to recovery. But amidst all that energy and excitement, the stale stench of complacency began to set in across Western and Central New York. While Democrats were being elected to Congress in once-unthinkable districts across the nation, the cursed Appalachia Now! mentality soiled that sweet smell of change here at home.

Despite seemingly insurmountable odds, the embarrassment to our region known as John Randy Kuhl narrowly edged the clearly superior Eric Massa. Other Republican Congressmen Tom Reynolds (i.e., the guy who deemed it more important to keep a Republican in office than protect young House pages from a sexual predator) and Jim Walsh both won re-election as well. Sure, liberals Louise Slaughter and Brian Higgins won easily, but they represent heavily Democratic districts. The news wasn't all bad for Massa, Maffei, and Davis; they easily won the more sophisticated urban counties they would have represented (i.e., Erie, Monroe, Niagara, and Onondaga). But the uneducated morons of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions apparently didn't get the memo on removing the failed Republican establishment from office. Folks in the backwards Confederate counties of Allegany, Steuben, Cayuga, Wayne, Livingston, and Wyoming went for the Republican candidates by nearly 2-1 margins.

Not all of Upstate New York is afflicted with Appalachitis. In the Albany area, Democrat Kirsten Gillebrand brought down GOP incumbent John Sweeney; and in the race for an open seat in the Utica area, Democrat Michael Arcuri defeated Republican Ray Meier. Congrats to the progressive voters of those districts who recognized the need to halt the spread of neo-fascism that had spread across this nation in the wake of 9/11. But this blog is not about the Mohawk Valley or the Capital District, this is all about Rochester and we Rochesterians are pissed. These criminally-gerrymandered districts need to be fairly retraced to reflect the views of the constituents contained within them.

Just as the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions deserve to be represented by an ignorant, drunk, shotgun-wielding wifebeater like Kuhl; the good folks of Monroe County deserve to be represented by a progressive, informed, honest person such as Eric Massa. Much the same, it is unfair that Louise Slaughter should have to represent the cities of Rochester, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls while also technically representing the lakeside communities of Orleans County. Furthermore, why should anyone from Syracuse be representing the interests of suburban Rochester residents?

These districts are ridiculous and they are a decent excuse for how our region voted last Tuesday. But it is none the less insulting that two of the four Rochester-area Congresspersons did not carry Monroe County and only one of the four is from Metropolitan Rochester. It is my fear that our representation by these out-of-touch gentlemen will further isolate our region from the rest of mainstream America. Governor Spitzer has a lot of work to do if he is to cure this region of the bad case of Appalachitis that is killing it. Of course, five of the eight counties that Spitzer either lost or only narrowly won are in Western New York.