Suddenly, incumbents ain’t so bad

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08/12/2010 12:00 AM |

One thing the press absolutely loves to do is to affix snappy descriptive labels to the voting bloc most likely to shape the outcome of regional or national elections.

Remember the year of the “soccer moms”? I think that came after the time of the “angry white men.” Pundits now are telling us that 2010 is the year incumbents will sink faster than the Mets in September. (OK, so the Yankees lost in 10 innings Tuesday night. So what?)

I can but guess at what we’ll see on Election Day, now less than 12 weeks away, in Kalamazoo or Rancho-Cucamonga. But in this corner of the Empire State, there seems little need for incumbents to head to the post office for a pack of those forwarding address cards.

As you have no doubt read elsewhere in these pages, a state judge has ended — for now at least — Democrat Regina Calcaterra’s challenge to long-serving GOP state Senator Ken LaValle. Her campaign has vowed to press an appeal. While I’m no election law attorney, her odds seem only slightly better than those of The Amazin’s winning it all.

This is a bitter disappointment for Democrats, who, in fielding a motivated, intelligent and organized challenger with an amazing personal story (her rise from poverty and life in homeless shelters), had every reason to believe this would be the year they’d topple the incumbent, an Albany insider in office since 1977.

But unless an appeals court overturns the Calcaterra decision, Mr. LaValle will skate to his 18th term. (Nine fewer than Yankee world championships.)

Democratic Assemblyman Marc Alessi is likewise running harder than ever. When a candidate sends out Facebook messages, you know he’s taking nothing for granted. If you can believe what you read (I mean, other than here), the GOP put up county Legislator Dan Losquadro, a well-known figure in the Assembly district’s Brookhaven side, in part as retribution for the Dems going so hard after Mr. LaValle. Perhaps Mr. Losquadro is wearing out shoe leather elsewhere, but he’s been pretty much a no-show hereabouts.

Which brings us to the Main Event, the steel cage match between Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop and, well, we don’t know who yet.

Mr. Bishop has a lot working against him. He’s a member of the party in control of the White House, which traditionally loses seats in mid-term elections. He’s a Democrat who represents a Republican district. He supported several major White House initiatives, health care reform chief among them, and we’re told that’s a political liability. He’s also reached the eight-year mark, and no First District congressman has served longer than that since Riverhead native Otis Pike, a Democrat, left office after 18 years in 1978. (He served close to nine years before the Mets won their first championship.)

Fortunately for Mr. Bishop, no one is working harder to secure him a fifth term than the Republicans running against him. The three men duking it out in a GOP primary are bludgeoning each other with all they’ve got. The decidedly less-than-polite invective flying about includes: Sure, your grandpa was president, but who the hell are you?

Wait, didn’t you move into the district 45 minutes ago and didn’t your business outsource a boatload of jobs overseas?

Who are you again? Didn’t you work in Manhattan? And why do we bother listening to you?

When it comes to effectively manning and operating a circular firing squad, no one tops the Suffolk GOP.

If voting machines had showed up in school gyms and firehouses during the winter, the incumbents would have been long gone. But I get the sense that the “throw dem (small D) bums out” fever seems to have abated, if not vanished. Sure, it could spike anew in October, like the Mets’ fortunes. But seriously, now, what are the chances of that happening?

Tim kelly is the editor of The Suffolk Times. He can be reached at [email protected] or 631-298-3200, ext. 238.