Published in

Election Season to Get Underway with State Party Conventions

Even as the state's fiscal condition becomes increasingly dire and we await the outcome of probes of Gov. David Paterson and top legislative leaders, the election process grinds on.

While the November general election is still way off, this week, the behind the scenes jockeying begins in earnest to determine who actually ends up on that general election ballot.

For New York, the entire state legislature is coming before the voters, and all the elected statewide offices are as well. Also in the mix: 29 House of Representative seats and both U.S. Senate slots.

The election action starts in earnest in the coming days, as New York Democratic Party regulars converge in Rye Brook for their State Nominating Convention, May 25 to 27. At the three-day confab, the Democrats will sort out endorsements for governor, attorney general, and comptroller. And they will present Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the presumptive party choice for governor, a chance to layout his vision for New York.

Then, in the first days of June, the Republicans will take their turn when they meet in New York City.

And in this, the year of the cranky voter, the get-togethers of the state's Conservative and Working Family Parties, which both have ballot status, are worth following as well. In competitive races, these motivated and passionate partisans can be decisive.

The WFP gathering is scheduled to take place in Buffalo from June 4 to 6. And for a crowded field of Democratic AG wannabes, their progressive blessing would be critical.

The Conservatives have already shown some muscle, setting their convention dates earlier than the GOP's -- they'll start on May 28. That move could have some effect on the race for the Republican nomination for governor.

Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long has thrown his support behind former Congressman Rick Lazio, who faces a challenge from Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who was elected as a Democrat, and Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino.

For Levy, getting the nod at the GOP convention is critical because he did not change his party affiliation in enough time to be able to circulate a Republican petition to get on the September GOP primary ballot.

For all the other aspiring candidates who come out of this party convention cycle without a thumbs up, there's still hope. They must embark on the expensive process of taking their case directly to the people by getting signatures from thousands just to get on the September ballot.

And then it will be time for the election lawyers from other campaigns to do their best to successfully challenge enough petition signatures to knock their rivals off the primary ballots.

Ah, Democracy...