End Electoral Fusion, Reduce Corruption

22 Jun

Right now, the marriage equality vote is being held up by little men with little minds. Specifically, Conservative Party chairman Mike Long and his local counterpart Ralph Lorigo are doing their utmost to ensure that gay people remain relegated to second class status.

Both of them are doing the “political protection” dance, threatening pols in close districts that they can kiss the Conservative line goodbye in 2012. For some pols, like Mark Grisanti, this is persuasive. After all, Grisanti defeated Antoine Thompson by only about 500 votes, and 4,300 of his votes came on the Conservative line. Sources close to the situation say that Lorigo has all but told Grisanti that he will be persona non grata with WNY Conservative Party committees if he votes for marriage equality.

So, it comes down not to doing the right thing, but counting votes.

The thing about the Conservative Party is that it has no business wielding the political power it does. In 2010, about 4.6 million New Yorkers voted – only about 232,000 of them on the Conservative line.

That’s 5% of people who cast ballots.

The Conservative Party’s political influence exponentially outweighs its ballot results. Charvella does a great job here explaining why all of the fusion-dependent parties – the WFP, the IP, and the Conservative Party – are emblematic of bad government. I’m tired of progress and legislation being held up by little men with little minds whose political parties are only mildly more legitimate and popular than the “Rent is Too Damn High” Party.  Why was Tony Orsini taken seriously as a political player? Who is Ralph Lorigo to demand fealty from candidates? How did a panoply of Independence Party hacks get jobs at the Erie County Legislature last year? Are Lorigo’s decisions on endorsements based on Conservative Party principles, or on unprincipled self-interest?

Take for instance Lorigo’s endorsement last year of outspoken marriage equality proponent Tim Kennedy. Why is Lorigo OK with Kennedy’s stance on the issue, but threatening other Senators on the same issue? No, this is all about transactional politics.

For instance, I learned about a townwide race in Erie County where Lorigo had previously endorsed the candidate but won’t do so now. Why? Because Lorigo’s plaza-developer client wasn’t able to close a deal for a new shopping center, and this town official didn’t grease the skids for them to make it happen. Call it what you want – I call it corruption; Lorigo refuses to endorse because the official didn’t unlawfully ram Lorigo’s client’s plan through the town process?!

That’s why it’s time to end political fusion. If you don’t want little people like Ralph Lorigo or Tony Orsini (now deposed) or Mike Long or Frank MacKay or Steve Pigeon to wield political power that is far in excess of their actual political reach, then we need to put them out of business.

In the meantime, turning to Mark Grisanti and Pat Gallivan, the local Republican state Senators who are reputedly on the fence about this: Gallivan received about 9,000 votes on the Conservative line, but he defeated Cynthia Appleton by about 30,000 votes. You don’t need Lorigo or his line. As for Grisanti, it was a miracle that a Republican defeated a Democrat, but that was a special situation.  Enough Democrats in the district decided they’d had enough of Antoine Thompson. If Grisanti votes for marriage equality, Lorigo pulls Conservative support.  If Grisanti votes against marriage equality, Democrats revolt and he’s out next time. If Grisanti switches parties back to Democrat and votes for marriage equality, he’s Senator for life (HT Andrew Kulyk for the preceding 3 sentences).

I urge you to join the End Electoral Fusion in New York State Facebook group.  Fusion makes politics dirtier, and is oftentimes the root of political evil and backwardness in this state.  This needs to become a thing.

12 Responses to “End Electoral Fusion, Reduce Corruption”

  1. Still Republican? June 22, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    Ok, so you end fusion voting. Perfect if you’re a registered Democrat. There is such a large Dem overlay in this state that there would be no chance of any Rep, Ind, Grn or Cons candidate ever being elected. I know, I know, you’ll say the right candidate can overcome this. Yeah, right.

  2. Fat Tony June 22, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    I support an end fusion voting if we up the number of votes required to gain official party status from 50,000 to something more along the lines of 250,000. Who needs these minor party chairs playing spoiler. With no fusion, they’ll cut deals to leave their line blank if they like you or find just the right candidate to siphon votes away if you oppose them. It’s nuts that a party that grabs the bare minimum of 50,000 can wreak havoc on this state for the next four years.

  3. Derek J. Punaro June 22, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    Your math is wrong. 232,000/4,600,000=0.05 x100=5%

  4. Alan Bedenko June 22, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    Oh, well. I liked 0.05% better. 

  5. James June 22, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Erie County 60th Senatorial District has only 1106 enrollees in Conservative Party. Yet 3,475 people in Erie County voted for Grisanti on Conservative line. People will vote for a person. But perhaps not vote for that person in a particular party.
    The whole party system is messed up including the Democrats and Republicans. Open primaries could help.

  6. T.M. Thomas June 22, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    I often vote for fused candidates because my personal politics steer me away from particular parties at various times and, after some thought, I favor the end of the fusion. It’s a weak excuse. Sure, I like that I can vote for (hypothetically) Greg Edwards on a Conservative line, in an attempt to send a message that it’s not a support of the national GOP as a whole, or that I can (hypothetically) vote for Brian Higgins on the Independence to tell him to steer toward the middle of the road…but I don’t think it works that way. The pols respond to the party leaders, not to the rank and file, and my fused votes aren’t sending the message that “I support Greg Edwards but not Michelle Bachman”…it’s sending the message that “Mike Long gets more patronage jobs and more ears to hear him in Albany.”

  7. King Kong June 22, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    I have seen no evidence that ending fusion voting would eliminate corruption in politics or get important legislation like marriage equality passed. It’s a nice straw-man to put up without getting to the heart of the problem, which is the lack of legislative courage. If it wasn’t for fusion voting it would be something else. I really don’t see it as being part of the problem.

    • Alan Bedenko June 22, 2011 at 11:59 am #

      Ending fusion voting wouldn’t eliminate corruption in politics, but it quickly and with one fell swoop end one particular and unnecessary subset of corruption in politics. Specifically, it would end the transactional horse-trading that goes on in terms of minor party lines being awarded to candidates in exchange for _____.

      Yesterday on Twitter, you wanted an example. I gave you one in this post. I can’t name names (except Lorigo), but suffice it to say that the Conservative line is being denied because Ralph’s client’s plan wasn’t shoved through a town board process by a compliant supervisor.

  8. buffaloobserver June 22, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    I agree with Fat Tony,up the ante to qualify for a line on the ballot.

  9. RaChaCha June 22, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

    And there’s also the County planning board matter, from 2009 — remember that–? Passed the Leg. by a comfortable majority, but the override of Collins’ veto needed all those votes to hold. Lorigo used his leverage to pry away the legislator from Lackawanna by similarly threatening to withhold the cross-endorsement. I’ve heard from a reliable source that when Lorigo was called on this, he said that his plaza-developer client didn’t want the planning board. So that was that.

  10. RaChaCha June 22, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    Oops — meant to add that the Conservative Party is the tail that wags the Republican (and all too often Democratic) dog. Thanks to fusion. It wreaks havoc in Monroe County, as well — and the chairman-for-life there is similarly asshole-ish.

    About SSM, at the risk of sounding superficial, I also wonder about the “Daisey’s factor” on Conservative-aligned state senators — perhaps they dread getting a ribbing over their Saturday breakfast…

  11. billy bob June 23, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    Thanks to the Buffalo News, WNYMedia, and plenty of other local-yokel “Democrats” for helping to get Grisanti elected.

    Long live the WFP!!!!

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