Quality Control

31 Oct

I know a lot of people are not pleased at all with the Mesi and Delano candidacies. But the alternatives are just as mediocre, if not worse (depending on your point-of-view). People like Ranzenhofer and Stachowski, who have been in the political arena for multiple decades and have the connections and contacts to raise the money needed to run a race have a huge advantage. Stachowski is a full-time State Senator and doesn’t have to be in Albany right now. Ranzenhofer is self-employed and can take whatever time he thinks he needs to campaign. Delano can run on his name recognition, and the fact that he’s been suspended and doesn’t have a day job. Mesi, too, is self-employed and has all the time in the world to canvass and campaign.

People like Chris Lee, Dan Humiston, and Jane Corwin are independently super-wealthy and don’t hold down regular jobs. (Humiston is, still, employed by his company – but Corwin and Lee sold their companies for megabucks). They, too, have not only the time, but the resources to run a costly race.

All of these people claim to know and understand the regular person’s problems. Do they? Do the super-wealthy know what the middle class faces each day? Does Chris Lee, with $400 million in the bank, understand the concerns of a farmer in Livingston county or a single mother earning $40,000 living in Williamsville?

It’s extraordinarily difficult to run a political campaign and be a regular, average person. It’s very hard to have to show up to work every day from 8 – 5 and raise money or go door-to-door. It’s hard to be a no-name candidate and go out and get your name out there if you’re not already bankrolled in a big way.

The system is stacked against regular people who actually understand people’s problems, and is stacked in favor of the wealthy, the people already in office, and people blessed to have some sort of flexible schedule during the week.

When we complain about the lack of quality candidates, we need to examine what, if anything, can be done to make it easier for you or your neighbor to run for office in a competitive manner.

14 Responses to “Quality Control”

  1. WNYPMH October 31, 2008 at 8:36 am #

    The whole thing has gotten out of hand. Davis and Reynolds spent like $5.5 million dollars on the race for the 26th last time around. The average person can’t compete with that WITHOUT taking money from PAC’s, unions, and other special interests. It just can’t be done. Gotta be rich and/or well connected to play this game now. And you are right, those people don’t know what the working people of Western New York are going through every day.

  2. lulu October 31, 2008 at 9:50 am #

    I agree completely. And I’ll go so far as to say that if you are a regular person attempting to run for office, not only do you have to take the $ where you can get it, but also the advice and the public character smears that comes with running for office these days. It is such an ugly process that the potential good and smart and hardworking candidates take themselves out of contention because the pro vs. con decision when choosing to run is way heavy on the con side.

    I’ll also add that if one wishes to run in an attempt to make government more efficient or on a “change the system” platform, that person has to know how to navigate the current administration in order to be effective in changing it, so I’d love to see some middle ground ideas presented in the local campaigning and not such broad Left or Right rhetorical stances.

  3. Ward October 31, 2008 at 9:58 am #

    By coincidence, this comment pertains to two of your consecutive items, so I am posting the same to both.

    Ordinary citizens will not run for office because modern political campaigns are a cesspool of excrement of which no decent, thoughtful person would wish to partake.

    An ordinary citizen expresses disapproval of the economic policies of a particular candidate, and Ohio hack political appointees such as Helen Jones-Kelly (Director of the Office of Jobs and Family Services) decide to access confidential databases via their government computer system to see if this citizen owes child support, is delinquent in payroll taxes, has any liens, etc. Ms. Jones-Kelly, for one, says there is no connection between her professional curiosity and the fact that she has made the maximum permitted contribution to the Obama campaign this year.

    It takes the media about ten minutes to pile on, grinning and winking, but they’re six minutes behind the Daily Kos, which has just wound up its six-week investigation into rumors of incest in the Palin family.

    People who have represented clients in a professional capacity as attorneys are accused of mocking and belittling their clients’ “victims”, when all they have done is given their clients the zealous representation which the Canons of Ethics demand.

    Never mind the financial and time costs of running a campaign for office at any level—who but he most craven would enter upon such a vile endeavor, and subject their children to a single word of it?

  4. The Wizard October 31, 2008 at 10:01 am #

    Agreed with Ward. I think you would see more regular people running for office if people like Dale Voelker and Jack Davis didn’t try to ruin the lives of their opponents.

  5. Don October 31, 2008 at 10:54 am #

    Why is it believed that “regular people” are good candidates. Why is it believed that being a lawyer, boxer, cop or farmer is a credential when applying for a job in any complex political arena, especially our two party form of government? The positions are full time jobs – politics is a full time career.

    Of course you need a skill set to win the election. There is probably a completely different skill set to get your party’s endorcement. But once elected you are supposed to serve – and represent a large constituency. It would be good if the elected candidate could be effective as a legislator.

    What is the skill set to be effective? Having somne charisma, which you probaby need to be elected, is an asset. The same would apply to being an effective communicator. But how about some experience in the science of politics? How about serving your local city/town/village? There isn’t an established internship or residency but maybe there should be.

    I don’t think money is the issue. If you are a viable candidate in the two party system your party will find ways to support you.

    So don’t expect my vote if your credential is that you are regular. If you view your job as bringing back the pork, let me know why you think you can do that. If you view your job as dispensing patronage, let my know why you’d be good at it. If there is something else elected officials do let me know what it is and let me know why you’d be good at it.

    If you don’t have thick skin, don’t run. If you don’t have the time to run, don’t run. If you can’t get your party to support you, don’t run. And if you don’t have a resume, don’t run.

  6. Dan Meyer October 31, 2008 at 3:31 pm #

    Well said Alan.

    We definitely need to take a good hard look to see what can be done so more “average Joe” and “average Jane” folks can run for elected office and go into a race with a realistic chance of winning.

  7. hank October 31, 2008 at 4:05 pm #

    The positions are full time jobs – politics is a full time career.

    Not exactly, numbnuts.

    George Washington TRIED to set the example by
    2. REFUSING to serve more than 2 terms as President.

    Pundit said it…Career Politicians have NO CLUE what the citizen in the street goes through, be it on the local, county, state or federal level. If they do, they forget FAST.

    What does Joe Biden,who has been a federal elected official since I was 15 years old (I’ll be 52 next year), know what the hell’s going on outside the Beltway? He has made mention of popular eateries in his own town in Delaware–THAT CLOSED 20 YEARS AGO. That’s how far in touch with Delaware Joe Biden is.

    Joe’s just one example. Repubs are no better–_Arlen Specter was on FUCKING WARREN COMMISSION, which convened when I was 6 fucking years old, and his ass is STILL in Washington.

    How about “Sheets” Bryd, still serving in Congress–but served when it was considered OK to be a member of the KKK? Strom Thurmond,Al Gore Sr, Robert Byrd, Members of Congress wearing hoods and sheets.

    Is this what’s good for America? Nancy and Harry don’t think Byrd should be running his committee anymore. Watch the fur fly if they try to unseat him.

  8. Mike In WNY October 31, 2008 at 5:26 pm #

    Two words – term limits!

  9. Timothy Domst October 31, 2008 at 5:50 pm #

    To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, “I don’t have to be boiled in a pot to know soup.”

    All that matters is that the politician’s views dovetail with more of your views that the other candidates. I think that if I met Collins I probably wouldn’t enjoy sitting through a dinner with him, and I don’t give a rat’s ass if he never did anything like help dig septic tanks as employment like I did. That would be STUPID. I will vote for him as long as he runs. How many farmers actually vote for farmers? BP supports a boxer over another lawyer who must understand his life thoroughly.

    Mesi and Delano both seem to be ripe for exploitation by their respective parties. In this state especially, that means that even though they seem to relate to “average joe’s” life, they are a bad choice.

  10. Tim October 31, 2008 at 7:08 pm #

    There are different requirements for different offices. Do I want a relative neophyte like Joe Mesi sitting in the White House? Of course not, but he’s shown he’s a hard worker and being an effective State Senator is not something outside of the grasp of a hard working person of even average intelligence.

    I don’t think Joe is a genius or a serious policy guy, but he does seem like someone that grasps that things are going down the tube for middle and working class folks in this country. I appreciate that.

    He’s been quite thankful of the Working Families party in some of his interviews and I don’t think he’ll suddenly turn his back on their influence wants he gets elected.

    And let’s not pretend that politics is somehow not about “x” vs “y”. Joe isn’t the perfect candidate but Mike Ranzenhofer is a joke. He’s a career politician that hardly even bothered to show up and vote. When he did vote he voted for cynical measures like cutting the gas tax. The guy is a classic “cut taxes to the breaking point to win elections and then feign ignorance when the budget bleeds red.”

    And even if you really, really can’t get excited about Joe you can at least get excited about putting Dean Skelos out of business and in giving folks like the Working Families Party a chance to really help working and middle class folks all across the state.

  11. marathon sprinter October 31, 2008 at 7:44 pm #

    Until you or a family member runs for office, you have no idea.

    The campaign is not about the issues or qualifications to serve. It’s about power. Those who have it, will ruin anyone that tries to challenge it. There are no rules, no boundaries, nothing that is off limits. We were told, “Wanna win? You have to play dirty.” Countless people have offered up shovel loads of dirt on the opponent and we politely declined. When it’s over, I’ll let you know if in fact you must live like a pig in order to win an election.

    I was also told that voters act like a crop of mushrooms feeding off the shit, happily sitting in the dark.

  12. WNYPMH October 31, 2008 at 9:02 pm #

    @Don – I don’t think anyone implied that all “regular” people are good candidates. I think the point was that there are some good candidates in the middle class who simply cannot afford to run for any seat over a school board or town board position. And it costs 1000’s of dollars to do that. Move up to County Legislator it’s probably in the $10-$50K range. County Exec or Mayor of Buffalo maybe $100-500K and then you get into Congressionals and you are $1-3 million. The point was that the “regular’ guy who does have the right ideas and the other qualifications can’t afford that.

    And your statement that “you can get your party to support you” doesn’t mean the committees will fund your campaign. You gotta go raise money. The fundrasing for upper level races takes more time the everything else in the campaign, and in those higher level races there is no way the WNY will support the million plus races, so unless you are a multimillionaire, you gotta spend a ridiculous amount of time fundraising, and you gotta take money from out of district and you gotta take money from PACs and Unions and other “special interests”.

    @hank – Thank you so much for all of your insight. If it wasn’t for such nice people like you to explain everything to the rest of us so nicely, Punditville would just be overflowing with ignorance.

    I notice you didn’t mention McCain….also been around the block a few times.

  13. The Wizard November 1, 2008 at 5:55 pm #

    Marathon Sprinter – Who in you family is running? You probably do not want to tell, but I’m just curious.

  14. marathon sprinter November 1, 2008 at 6:31 pm #

    Wizard, I’ll tell you on Wed!

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