I took a day off from watching the soil dry to take a tour of the historic Hudson Valley Tuesday. I was assigned to northern Duchess County as part of the “Ballot Security” legal team for Assembly Minority leader Jim Tedisco’s attempt to take back what should be a rock-ribbed Republican congressional district in a Special Election.
After counting over 150,000 votes Tuesday night, the margin between the candidates was only 65 votes with as many as 10,000 absentee, military and provisional ballots yet to be counted, so this one is truly too close to call! In such a close race, it would be nice to feel that I had an impact, but the truth is I had absolutely none.
Our job was to drive around to about 20 polling places and show the Republican flag, but there was really no concern of voter fraud in any of these districts. They were for the most part rural and small town areas much like Livingston County with a few of the tonier suburbs of Poughkeepsie thrown in. Towns like Redhook, Rhineback and Hyde Park comprise the southern tip of the sprawling 20th Congressional seat formerly occupied by our new Senator Kirstin Gillibrand
This district overall is reported to be the most Republican by registration in the state, so hopes were high for a Republican victory. Northern Duchess County sure looked like Republican territory to me, so I was shocked when the results showed that the Democrat had won the portions of the county that are in the 20th by over 1,000 votes! Of course that does include wildly liberal Bard College!
Politics aside, it was a beautiful sunny day and the landscape around the Hudson River was breathtaking. Despite development pressure from people fleeing NYC after 9/11, local planners and conservancies have done a good job preserving open space and the historic ambiance of the area.
Since we were really not needed at the polls, (other than to provide comic relief for bored poll watchers), my NYC lawyer partner and I took time off to walk around the grounds of the FDR estate in Hyde Park. Although not as big or impressive (or even as well-maintained) as certain homes in Geneseo, it does explain why many people felt that Roosevelt was a “traitor to his class.” He obviously led a very sheltered life growing up surrounded by servants in this elegant country retreat.
We listened in as a National Park Service tour guide recounted how the national media of that day had conspired to keep FDR’s polio-caused paralysis out of the press because “they liked his policies.” Without a hint of irony, he assured the listeners that such a thing could never happen today! Right!
As a rock-ribbed Republican myself, I would like to be optimistic over the party’s future. The sad truth, however, is that if we can not run away with the most Republican district in the state under a Socialist President and a corrupt Democrat Congress, then it may be time to put us in a museum as well!