Sunday, September 12, 2010

SD-46: State of the Race, 9/9 to 9/12

Final Push for Albany County State Senate Seat

Breslin Relies on Big $$ Advertising, Martland on Shoe-Leather and Big Momentum

Welcome back once again. It's been only a few days since our last update to the hottest political contest in Albany County this year. But with incumbent Senator Neil Breslin and primary challenger Luke Martland in the final push of what has become one of the most expensive primaries in the state, the news of Breslin's defense of the status quo and Martland's defiant stand against the established order continues to draw more attention.

A neat synopsis of the above-mentioned qualities of the race was presented by the local cable news channel YNN, formerly Capital News 9. For those looking for a quick wrap-up of where things stands, this is a good entry. Luke Martland gives a great interview while barnstorming the area, nicely juxtaposed against quoted text responses from a Breslin campaign spokesperson.

The rest of the story, including the Times Union' weak endorsement of Senator Breslin and continued debate over this race's relationship to Senator Pedro Espada, lies below the fold...

(Cross-Posted on The Albany Project)

Luke Martland


"Take Albany Back"

The best indicator of what's really going on in the Martland camp might not be coming from the media. They are doing good job at letting voters know a race is on this year, and have been covering Martland's campaign and Breslin's service in the Senate closer than ever before.

Still, its the tone in the most recent e-mail to supporters that tells me this is campaign that is doing better than expected against very heavy odds. It may be a longshot challenge, but you get the sense of serious momentum here:

In 2 days you will make a very important choice

For the first time in many years, voters in Albany County have a choice for State Senate. On one hand the status quo and a legacy of late budgets, ever-rising taxes, jobs fleeing the area, corruption, incompetence and dysfunction. On the other hand what I will fight for: responsible budgeting, term limits, a tax cap, and bringing jobs back to upstate. And, an end to the corruption and dysfunction that has made our State Senate an embarrassment.

As we all know, in Albany County the primary is what matters.

Updates: door to door blitz and TV ad

Over the last 7 days we continued our door to door efforts. I have walked every day, usually from 10 or 11 a.m. until the sun sets. Thank you to all the volunteers who have helped out! We will continue our door to door blitz Sunday and Monday. As always the response is fantastic and people deeply appreciate a candidate personally knocking on their door. In the last email blast I asked for support to place our second ad on TV. We received more then enough contributions, and were able to extend the ad's run. Thank you everyone.

Now it's time to bring it home. Now it's time to win

This will be a very close and important race and your vote will make a difference. Remember to vote next Tuesday. Polls are open from 12 noon to 9 p.m.

The focus on the the last-second uptick in advertising to counter the nearly 10 to 1 funding advantage Breslin has over Martland is key here. So, too, are times the projected closeness of the race as mentioned.

Yes, yes, it's an e-mail to supporters meant to drum up enthusiasm....but given the recent attention given to Breslin's lackluster performance as Senator and the jolt of energy it gave Martland's upstart campaign, I wouldn't be surprised if either candidate's internal polling was giving them the message that things are in fact looking very close.

It would explain just why Breslin has spent more on this primary campaign than any campaign he's ever run. Martland made not of this yet again in the YNN coverage, and he continues to repeat messages like this each day on the campaign trail:

Martland Accuses Incumbent Neil Breslin of Trying to Buy the September 14th primaryTimes Union says Breslin spent $184,449 in July and August

(September 9, 2010, Albany) State Senate candidate Luke Martland today accused 14-year-incumbent Neil Breslin of trying to buy the September 14th primary election by spending $184,449 between July 12 and September 3, 2010. (Times Union)

“Neil Breslin can’t run on his record so he is trying to buy the election,” said Martland who has campaigned door to door for 90 days to win the primary on September 14th.

“I don’t have a huge campaign war chest funded by insurance companies, lobbyists and special interests,” added Martland. “Instead, I have knocked on doors and spoken to voters everywhere in Albany County from Albany to Altamont, from Colonie to Coeymans, from Watervliet to Westerlo and every place in between."

The only thing I have to add to that is that I'm sick to death of adding the link to Breslin's fundraising contributors to remind you that all that money is coming from the likes of AIG, Morgan Stanely, Geicko, Bank of America, and all sorts of other big Wall Stree lobbying firms and political action committees. That should be old news to anyone who's been paying attention to Breslin for any period of time, and people really need to start looking this stuff up for themselves. Maybe that will happen eventually...

More recently, these two direct responses to Breslin's recent attempt to distance himself from Senate dysfunction luminaries like Pedro Espada and make claims that he's one of the good guys in the State Senate. The general Martland theme is Neil Breslin Says One Thing and Does Another:

Neil Breslin says he is a fighter for the people of Albany County –

Breslin voted to increase state taxes by $9 billion in the last two years.

Higher taxes cause suffering for middle class people, seniors and small businesses.

One in four people in Albany live in poverty according to the NYS Community Action Association. (TU March 18, 2010)

Neil Breslin voted to furlough public employees.
Health insurance premiums in Albany County went up nearly 15% in the past year according to the NYS Insurance Dept. (TU March 18, 2010)

Neil Breslin is not a fighter for the people of Albany County. He is a leader of the status quo that raises taxes harming middle class people, seniors and small business. He takes campaign contributions from insurance companies, lobbyists and special interests.

Luke Martland will fight for budget reform, to hold down taxes and state spending, create jobs and put the people of Albany County first.


Neil Breslin says he is a reformer and “has made cleaning up the Senate a top priority.”


Neil Breslin opposes term limits for legislators.

Neil Breslin refused to disclose his tax records, law firm client list and salary.

Neil Breslin voted for an ethics bill that would have protected lawyer legislators from revealing their outside income and would have prevented the creation of an independent body to oversee the Legislature.

Neil Breslin refused to return more than $125,000 in contributions from insurance companies and lobbying firms he accepted in the last 18 months while he was chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee.

If you support the status quo in the state Senate, vote for Neil Breslin.

Luke Martland supports term limits, legislative oversight and full disclosure.

If you want meaningful change, vote for Luke Martland.

These have been appearing daily in my inbox, and I wouldn't be surprised if more were to follow in the final days of the campaign. Interestingly enough, the main source the Martland campaign is using to prove Breslin is not the squeakly clean champion of the people he claims to be is the local newspaper...

Neil Breslin


"For All The Right Reasons."

...which this week gave Senator Breslin their endorsement for re-election. The Times Union editorial board on Friday presented what I consider to be one of the worst cases for returning Breslin or any incumbent to office I've ever read.

In fact, I think they've endorsed Breslin for all the wrong reasons.

Judging by the commentary on the TU's own Capitol Confidential blog, I'm clearly not alone in my assessment that this endorsement pandered to a powerful incumbent, ignoring key issues to Martland's detriment and highlighting inconesequential and previously unmentioned minor issues to count towards Breslin's favor. For crying out loud, one section of the endorsement even makes note that the paper's publish and editor sits one several boards of directors that (surprise!) recieved regular support fromthe Senator.

Read the endorsement for yourself and make up your own mind, of course, but as I read it, I wasn't surprised by the fact that the establishment rag endorsement the establishment bum. It was the weakness of the reasoning behind it that knocked me flat. I get the impression both reading responses and talking to voters that this is how the endorsement has fallen in the public's eye.

But Breslin is still trying. In the past few days, the mailer pictured below has been distributed arond Albany County, attempting to make a guy who voted for Pedro Espada for Majority Leader look like a guy who actually stood up to him:



It looks pretty effective to the untrained eye or uneducated voter at first glance. The fact is that Breslin is appealing to just that kind of thing with this mailer; not only did Breslin have the gavel in his hand during the 2009 Senate Coup that gave Espada the Majority Leader's post, but his was one of many Democratic votes that gave it to him in the first place. If any Democratic Senator wanted to take a meaningful stand against Espada, that was the time. Breslin is now one of several Senators statewide, including Espada himself, spending lots of money in their primary re-electionc campaigns trying to convince the public otherwise.

They might buy it, and they might not. But either way, this is still just the primary. With the polls opening in just two days, perhaps it's time to wonder a little about the general election. Smart money still goes to Breslin thanks to his long tenure in office and his family ties to the the County Executive and one of the County Judges, all three of then brothers, but Breslin's electoral fight may not be over after that. While Albany County is overwhelmingly Democratic, it was a first-term Republican Senator and County Executive that Breslin and his brother suceeded to start their decades-long powerhold here. In such an anti-incumbent year, and with a noisy Tea Party segment in the Capital Region, I wouldn't be surprised if probably Republican nominee Bob Domenici couldn't present a serious challenge to Breslin after what has become a bruising primary for the Senator.

Indeed, opposition to Breslin from the right and right-of-center has already begun, and they aren't waiting for the general election to target him. This week's TU Inside Politics columnist sees reporter JOrdan Carleo-Evangelist follow-up on earlier reports that the state-level pro-gun rally has been sending fliers around Albany County encouraging Democrats to vote against Breslin in the primary.

Gun-rights group can't think past primary

The state's biggest gun-rights advocacy group trained its sights on state Sen. Neil Breslin this week, dispatching postcards to its members in Albany County urging them to vote against Breslin in next week's Democratic primary.

The Breslin camp, for its part, wasn't much sweating the ire of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, which accused the 14-year-incumbent of consistently sponsoring and voting for "all gun control measures."

The group's PAC, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association Political Victory Fund, paid for the mailing.

Breslin's campaign said the senator is proud of his record on gun control -- and for many Democrats generally, the association's distaste is something of a badge of pride.

And that's where it gets weird.

While the rifle and pistol association was imploring its members to vote "against" Breslin on Sept. 14, the group is not endorsing Breslin's lone Democratic opponent, Luke Martland.

Tom King, the association's executive director, explained the mailing this way: "We're saying that we just don't think that Neil Breslin is the man for the job anymore."

Astute observers (or conspiracy theorists) noted that the group might just be trying to weaken Breslin in hopes that he'll lose the primary to Martland, who would make an easier mark for Republican candidate Bob Domenici.

So we asked whether the NYSRPA would be backing Domenici come November, but King said no decision has yet been made.

Given that Dominici is throwing in his lot with the local Tea Party -movement- standstill (something that doesn't make any progress can't be called a movement, after all) and that he's touting former military experience (at least I think he is...don't all Tea Party types?) I'm guessing the gun nuts will go his way eventually. But what's interesting here is, as Carleo-Evangelist's headline points out, they are focusing on Breslin's primary election, not the general.

This speaks to two truths. First, given Albany County's current thirty-plus point registration advantage for Democrats, winning the primary is essentially rubber stamps a general election victory. We're certainly not unique in that respect, but toss in the County's history as being the deathbed of the last of the great urban Democratic machines in just the past generation and you get both a boost to that argument and a second angle that better explains this tactic against Breslin.

See, I make a lot of noise here as a progressive, but I can acknowledge that the Albany County Democratic Party is just that, the Democratic Party. It's not the Progressive Democratic Party, not at all. In fact, the party power players have a conservative bent if you ask me, and most others would probably agree it's most firmly grounded in the center. Such is the nature of self-perpetuating powerful political establishments, but that's beside the point. It's a Democratic environment where the right-wing Guns, Gods, and Gays arguments could work to the tune of a few thousand votes. Trust me: you would be amazed at the language I hear come out the mouths of some of the old white dudes in past committee meetings. Especially during the 2008 presidential campaign. And this contingent certainly can't use the Gays part of the argument this year...

In any case, the ultimate thing to take away from this is that even if Breslin does walk away with the Democratic nomination, his margin of victory may end up mattering in his fight againt the Republcian nominee. It will remain an anti-incumbent year, and if Breslin demonstrates weakness in a primary after 14 years as an incumbent, you can probably prepare for continued and increased media coverage as the big story shifts from Martland's to Domenici's outside chance of taking the Senate seat away from Breslin.

Such is the State of the Race just 48 hours from the closing of the polls, and such are the reasons why I'll have pulled the level for Luke Martland by then. If I can't encourage you to do exactly the same, I at least hope you enjoyed reading and encouraged you to go to the polls this coming Tuesday and vote for somebody, dammit :-) Stay's not over until it's over.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

SD-46: State of the Race 9/5 to 9/9

Sen. Breslin's Political Future In Question Thanks to Martland's Spirited Primary Challenge

Welcome to another edition of State of the Race for the Albany County State Senate seat. Incumbent Senator Neil Breslin and his challenger Luke Martland are both in the fight of the thier lives as Breslin seeks to defend his seat of 14 years and Martland looks to turn years of public service experience into his first elected position. It has evolved from a safe-bet for the Senator to an outside chance that Albany County might just get a new State Senator.

The Times Union's Jordan Carleo-Evangelist profiled the race for newspaper readers at the one-week-to-go mark. If you missed the previous editions of the State of the Race or are just tuning in as many voters may be, this article is a great summary of how things look and how we got here. Everything is covered, from Breslin's place as one of three ruling brothers in Albany County to his widely publicized gaffe on prior-approval to Martland's crticisms of his insurance lobby bankroll and even a testament to just how well Martland is doing with voters. It is highly recommended reading for those hoping to catch up in the last few days before the primary.

For regular readers, welcome back! And get ready for the biggest update yet, in the shortest time frame since our
previous edition, as we head into the home stretch in the most important Democratic primary in the Capital Region this year...

(Cross-Posted on The Albany Project)

Luke Martland


"Take Albany Back"

The biggest development for Martland's campaign was the release of his second television advertisement, this one entitled Good Question, Mr. Breslin:

The ad once again attempts to turn this now infamous footage of the Senator's flub into a haymaker, and I can't fault Martland for it at all. The fact that Senator Breslin was caught on camera not knowing the actual contents of a bill he sponsored in his committee in what is supposed to be his area of expertise after months of talking it up for months would have been a godsend to any challenger. The fact that Martland is the first Democratic primary challenger to Sen. Breslin in his 14 years to have the funds to re-broadcast what was already the most damaging new story in his career is another reason the Senator is pulling out all the stops (and the full contents of his substantial war chest) to defend Martland's spirited first run for office.

Funding for avertising campaigns was a topic explored in the TU Local Politics report on the ad. It reveals that Breslin is has spent over $120,000 in broadcast advertising for last month alone...for a primary race. The funding advantage averages out to about ten to one in Breslin's favor, but today, Martland pointed out that the amount of money Breslin is pouring into this thing is just ridiculous:

Martland Accuses Incumbent Neil Breslin of Trying to Buy the September 14th primaryTimes Union says Breslin spent $184,449 in July and August MARTLAND

(September 9, 2010, Albany) State Senate candidate Luke Martland today accused 14-year-incumbent Neil Breslin of trying to buy the September 14th primary election by spending $184,449 between July 12 and September 3, 2010.

“Neil Breslin can’t run on his record so he is trying to buy the election,” said Martland who has campaigned door to door for 90 days to win the primary on September 14th.

“I don’t have a huge campaign war chest funded by insurance companies, lobbyists and special interests,” added Martland. “Instead, I have knocked on doors and spoken to voters everywhere in Albany County from Albany to Altamont, from Colonie to Coeymans, from Watervliet to Westerlo and every place in between."

Martland's campaign claims he has spent the past 90 straight days campaigning door-to-door. This is an impressive feat, and no doubt Martland's advantage in that department is increased physical endurance thanks to his time spent serving in the Marines. But he's been fighting with words, too, and yesterday he unveiled an extensive list of state problems he'd combat as State Senator. His press release and press conference yesterday was a policy wonk's dream and should leave no doubt whatsoever as to where Martland stands on economic issues. The entire platform is included below in full:

Martland Unveils Plan to Revitalize New York’s Economy

((September 8, 2010. Albany) – State Senate candidate Luke Martland today unveiled his plan to revitalize New York’s economy by reforming the budget process, cutting taxes, spending and borrowing, freezing the growth of state government, remaking government and reducing mandates.

“New York’s Government is broken and is failing New Yorkers,” said Martland. “Budgets are late every year, taxes keep going up, jobs are fleeing Albany Co. Now we know one of the reasons why – our Senator, Assistant Majority Leader Neil Breslin can’t even be bothered to read or understand the bills he votes on.”

“If elected, I will propose the following plan to get New York’s budget and fiscal house in order. These five steps will provide the foundation to address our State’s chronic budget problems,” said Martland.


New York’s budget, when the legislature bothers to pass one, is riddled with accounting gimmicks and untrue revenue projections intended to mask the budget’s true cost. For example, the 2010-11 budget has been described as “…riddled with cheating and basic math errors,” and relying on “… at least $5 billion in gimmicks and dubious assumptions.” Over the last few years the legislature has consistently counted revenue projections that are clearly false.

If we want to ensure that the State budget is truly balanced, then we must change the budget process so that is transparent, accurate and free of the accounting gimmicks of the past. I will push for the following changes:

Creation of an independent budget office which will produce an independent analysis of any legislation and its true cost to the taxpayers. If legislation has a cost, the sponsor of that legislation must delineate specifically how that cost will be paid for.

Adoption of Generally Acceptable Accounting Principles (GAPP) in preparing the budget.

Adoption of a five year financial plan to better plan budget decisions.

End to sweeps where funds collected for one purpose are taken to pay for general government operating expenses.

The debt of public authorities should be reported as a financial obligation of the state and incorporated into the budget process.

Consider a certification requirement so that the independent Budget Office, or Comptroller’s Office must certify that a budget is truly balanced.

These reforms will help ensure that the budget is accurate, transparent and that legislators can no longer use gimmicks, “… cheating and basic math errors …” to hide their irresponsible borrowing and spending.


In a time of crisis, true leaders lead by example. New York’s elected officials must step up and set an example by making sacrifices and curbing some of the most egregious examples of governmental waste. As State Senator, I will propose a series of steps, including:

An immediate 10% cut in salary for all legislators. I will propose this, and even if it is not adopted I will take a 10% cut myself.

Sharply reduce salaries for political appointees throughout the government. New York Government is rife with political appointees who are paid excessive salaries. The Authorities Budget Office recently released a report detailing some of the inflated salaries at State Authorities. For example, some of the examined authorities were paying top earners between $230,000 and $580,000 in salary. A large proportion of staff of some authorities are paid over $100,000 a year. And, at least $6.6 million in bonuses were paid out to public authorities across the State according to the same report.

I will propose legislation that no one who works for the State government, no matter what the position or title can make more then the Governor in total compensation.
Force dramatic reduction of pork and member items: I will push for a 50% reduction in member items for the 2011 – 12 fiscal year. In addition, all member items should be included in the regular budget and voted on as part of the regular budget process.

These measurers can produce substantial savings, especially going forward. Even more important, these measures will show leadership by example and help eliminate the most notorious misuses of taxpayer money.


Everyone agrees that New York’s government is inefficient and bloated. To truly shrink and rationalize State government and help balance the budget, we need a fast and complete reorganization. This reorganization must encompass not only agencies, but also public authorities – in other words all parts of New York’s sprawling governmental apparatus.
I will propose legislation establishing a two-step process that will revolutionize State government within two years:

First, I will propose legislation authorizing an independent top-to-bottom review of the structure of state operations, agencies, authorities and other entities. This review, to be conducted by outside efficiency and business experts primarily of the Governor’s choosing, will focus on how to deliver government services more efficiently and at less cost, and how to streamline and rationalize State government. Specifically, the study should recommend:
Major restructuring, including merging and eliminating agencies, authorities and other entities to shrink the size of State government.

Rationalizing how government works, for example, by consolidating support functions to eliminate redundancies and by bringing New York’s government into the 21st Century.
How to sharply reduce the number of public authorities (there are currently 500), fold their operations into agencies in order to eliminate redundancies and reduce the role of the “shadow government”.

Using performance and cost / benefit measures in accessing use of state funds and which projects will continue to be funded, and how to quickly adopt existing technology to save taxpayer money.
The study should be completed in six to nine months, and its findings will be used to inform the Governor’s decisions to restructure government.

Second, I will propose a law giving the incoming Governor broad authority to carry out the suggested reorganization. Under this legislation, the Governor will have authority to order, without legislative approval, the merger, restructuring or elimination of any agency, authority, office, board, commission or other entity. The governor’s emergency powers will end in two years.
The goal of this two-step process is to quickly provide an overall blue print on how to shrink and improve State Government and then give the Governor emergency authority to carry out this fundamental change. If successful, within two years, New York’s government will have been restructured to be smaller, more efficient, less costly and to provide better services.


The next step to restoring New York to health is to freeze government to create a breathing period until the broad restructuring plan is in place. Starting in January 2011, I will propose a temporary, but total hiring freeze, lasting approximately six months. This hiring freeze will cover all State positions, including consultants, so called “essential” positions and public authorities, and the only exceptions would be for the new Governor to bring on his immediate staff and new agency leadership. There should be a similar freeze on any new projects and the issuance of new debt.

This hiring, contract and debt freeze is intended to bring the seeming never ending growth in New York’s government and debt to a stop and allow the new administration time to develop and implement the re-organization plan discussed in Step III. Once the reorganization plan is in place, the freeze can be lifted as the plan is implemented.


New York State’s ever growing bureaucracy has resulted in more and more regulation that stifles businesses and opportunity. Local taxes, including school taxes, have been driven higher by unfunded state-imposed mandates that increase local costs. I will introduce legislation to establish a two step process to lessen this regulatory burden.

I will propose legislation to establish the temporary Office of Mandate Relief and give the head of that office - the “Repealer” - authority to repeal and invalidate any existing regulation or rule. This office will be in existence for two years and will be headed by a gubernatorial appointee and staffed with personnel drawn from existing State agencies on temporary assignment. The head of this office - the Repealer -will have authority to strike down any regulation and rule imposed by a State agency, authority or office without the necessity of going through the normal process and without the consent or approval of the agency or the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform (GORR).

The actions of the Repealer should complement the process of restructuring State government and within two years the Repealer should be able to dramatically cut down the thicket of State regulations and rules, at which point the office will cease to exist.

The most important step in solving our budget crisis is something intangible – competence.
Writing a bill, negotiating a bill, and complying with the law is what legislators do. It is their job. We now know that Neil Breslin – Assistant Majority Leader, 14 year incumbent and one leaders of Senate – doesn’t care enough to do his job. He cannot be bothered to read or understand the bills that come out of his committee and that bear his name, bills that he boasts about. That was his decision – a decision to not do his job because he did not care if what he said was true or not.
The same holds true for why the budget was late. It’s not that Neil Breslin and his colleagues couldn’t pass a budget on time. They are required to by law and that is why they serve in the government. It’s that they decided to not even try. They ignored the law, did not schedule committee hearing or negotiating sessions, refused to put forth proposals and made no attempt to meet the April 1st deadline. Then they did nothing for four months, only worked 3 days a week, take long weekends off and took weeks of vacation time. Our legislators – especially our Senators – intentionally refused to do their most basic job because they are incompetent and lack the back bone to make any tough decisions.


We have yet to see anything so substantive or specific from the Breslin campaign. Speaking of which...


Neil Breslin


"For All The Right Reasons."

Breslin has gone from being a sure-bet for re-election in the last cycle to a very vulnerable long-time incumbent in a rapid period of time. The general air of anti-incumbency across the country combined with the recent negative media spotlight cast upon him has cause Breslin to become one of the biggest primary spenders this cycle. In fact, according to this report, Breslin is protecting his seat more vigorously than Pedro Espada:

An analysis by the New York Public Interest Research Group found that 10 of the state's 30 costliest legislative primaries since 2000 are taking place this year, with candidates rapidly spending six-figure sums to fight challengers or take on incumbents.

"They are shaping up to be the most expensive," said Bill Mahoney, NYPIRG's legislative operations and research coordinator. He analyzed financial documents that detailed spending from July 12 through Sept. 3.

For example, state Sen. Neil Breslin, a Delmar Democrat, has spent more in this time period -- $184,449 -- against challenger Luke Martland than he did in all of the 2008 election cycle. Martland has spent $33,773 so far.

In the Bronx, Pedro Espada, who has been shunned by many fellow Senate Democrats due to last year's coup in which he briefly joined the Republicans, has spent $130,978 while his primary challenger Gustavo Rivera has spent $91,875.

Emphasis mine - SP

Those numbers present Sen. Breslin's greatest advantage over his upstart opponent. For years, Breslin has been the largest recipient of contributions from lobbyists for the insurance and banking industry. My conventional wisdom tells me that he's been saving it up for a raining day, and if he's spending this amount of money then somebody must be making it rain. I can recall Breslin's war chest exceeding $400,000 and edging towards half a million in the several terms I've been watching him. Never once has he had to drop this much in so short a time. Nor did I ever expect he'd be running a campaign that will go down in history as one of the top twenty most expensive primaries in State Senate history.

If there were any naysayers in the Breslin camp that insisted their candidate would win with a 75% margin and virtually no campaigning like in 2008, the Senator's actions in the past few weeks of 2010 should have them hard pressed to admit that the Senator has never felt as threatened in his political life and that he is, in fact, fighting for his political life.

For all of the talk of money influencing politics, a situation like this presents a problem to the well-funded incumbent: you aren't going to get as much bang for your buck against your upstart challenger. There's only so much pro-incumbent sentiment going around in an anti-incumbent year. You're going need as many political endorsements and cross-constituencies as possible.

But Breslin hasn't bagged any good news like that recently. Just today, CBS6 News added another bruising tale to their archives of Breslin revelations: Rep. Scott Murphy will not endorse the Senator in the race. Of course, he's not endorsing Martland either, but he does note that the 46th State Senate district and his own 20th Congressional District don't actually overlap. Still, politicians from nearby districts are typically brought in to make critical endorsements when things get tight.

The fact that Murphy is witholding any involvement in the race will probably speak to Martland's advantage, even though he doesn't throw in a good word for Martland either. Why? Because even though Murphy's office represents area outside Albany County, he is still a well-known and popular local leader. Thanks to his Murphy's own amazing ascendacy to Congress being a national political story last year itself, he's also probably a better-known and recognized commodity that the area's own Congressman, NY-21's own Paul Tonko. So what we have here may not be as inconsequential as this cute little news piece looks. It may be a revealing indicator that support for Breslin isn't only eroding door-to-door, but office-to-office in the halls of government. In other words, the smart sailors don't board sinking ships.

Is Breslin's ship truly sinking, though?

"Duh....good question."

In all seriousness, we'll know the answer in five days....and counting. Thanks for voting, thanks for reading, and stay tuned...the next State of the Race update is coming soon.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

SD-46: State of the Race 8/31 to 9/5

Post-Debate Media Narrative Solidifies as Candidates Hit the Airwaves

In our pre-Labor Day update to last week's installment, the State of the Race moves from previewing a defining debate between incumbent Senator Neil Breslin and his Democratic primary challenger Luke Martland, to rounding up how the arguments played out at the event and in the media.

Needless to say, the debate itself has garnered plenty of coverage. So has the recent meetins of the candidates with various editorial boards around Albany County. The candidates have moved from establishing a narrative in the media to having to build upon it, re-shape it based on how their opponents have shaken things up.

In that sense, Senator Breslin this past week has finally summoned his deep political power in the district and has been campaigning more actively. This lead Martland to continue sharpening his criticisms of his opponent, and evena few other sources echoed these concerns. And the race continues to attract deeper local and more prominent statewide attention.

Below the fold is your pre-Labor Day wrap up on anything and everything happening in this fast-developing race.

(Cross-Posted on The Albany Project)

Luke Martland


"Take Albany Back"

This week, Luke Martland continued bothering Breslin, as Capital Tonight put it, by responding to Breslin's first television advertisement (available in last week's update) by releasing a commercial of his own. Not surprisingly, it features footage of what has become the most defining news story of the campaign thus far:

Not a bad first start, if you ask me. Neither was Martland's performance at his stop at the Times Union editorial board. Breslin went as well, and both candidates sounded off on a couple of statewide issues. At least, these are what the TU chose to highlight. In Martland's case, he shared his view that opposition to the proposed mosque down The City is equivalent to outright bigotry. The article reveals that Martland was actually at Ground Zero on 9/11, and did his part to save lives that day. It also goes on to note that this isn't an area where the two candidates disagree, and offers Breslin's stance on the issue as well as Martland's personal opinions.

On a more relevant political note, Martland took some time in an interview with the Troy Record where he admitted that he has a tough fight ahead if he wants to defeat Breslin. It's a candid article released just before the debate that sums up the political realities and the strategies of the candidates quite well for those just joining us.

At the end of the week, and at the start of the post-Labor Day home stretch, Luke Martland's ground work is complete. He's now officially in the public eye, even if he is a newcomer, and the next weeks' news will be even more pivotal to his chances of success.

Neil Breslin


"For All The Right Reasons."

If Luke Martland came out swinging in the last couple of weeks, then this was the first week of Senator Breslin's full-blown attempts to save his seat. Up until the last update, the Senator would mostly brush aside his opponents persistent attacks. But after the big news report, his re-election campaign went into high speed.

This week, one of the more interesting stories is from the blog of Libby Post, former Empire State Pride Agenda coordinator. In this post, she reveals that she will be supporting Breslin despite the fact that he is being opposed by Martland, who is openly gay. The post is very thoughtful and again reveals one of the tighest and toughest splits in the Albany County electorate in this race. Breslin certainly has supported LGTB rights in the past, but this post is not without it's reply from Martland himself on why continuing to support Breslin in this regard may be flawed given the alternative Martland himself represents.

In official news, Breslin's performance in the newspaper room resulted in a little sparring match between the Senator and the Governor's office. Breslin was quoted as saying Paterson is total failure, goin so far as to say he had "no moral compass." He also used the opportunity to continue to rail on his colleagues Sens. Diaz and Espada, something he's been doing more frequently since Martland began to criticize Breslin for voting to give Espada that Majority Leader's post.

The comments drew a response from Gov. Paterson's office via an aide which turned things around rather nicely:

Gov. David Paterson’s top spokesman Morgan Hook said the governor is supportive of Sen. Neil Breslin but “sensitive” to stresses that may have led Breslin to criticize him.


“That being said, this is an election year, and the governor certainly appreciates that many elected officials who have never faced a primary before are fearful and anxious about their upcoming elections,” Hook continued, “and he is certainly sensitive to those concerns."

I'm sorry...I thought this tongue-in-cheek response was actually the best political comment to come out of the lame duck Governor's office in a while. Like Martland's comments on the mosque, I don't see much coming out of this story beyond some political junkies getting their jollies. The big stories that people are going to be talking about over the barbeques this Labor Day weekend will probably continue to be guided by the extensive coverage of the recent debate and the continued spotlight on Breslin's negative press from last month's prior-approval bill mix-up.

I think I got all those covered for this week. Thanks for voting, thanks for reading, and stay tuned...the next State of the Race update is coming soon.