Share this article

print logo

Another meaningless N.Y. primary

There is no joy in political junkieville this weekend mighty Santorum has dropped out.

Oh, not that former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum ranked as a real favorite of New York Republicans. Neither, for that matter, did fellow GOP contenders Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul.

But on those Wednesday mornings a few weeks ago when Santorum scored victories the previous night in places like Alabama and Mississippi, Republicans in these parts were looking ahead. Once -- just once -- they dreamed, the New York primary might mean something.

It only made sense, those political enthusiasts argued, that the great Empire State should participate in the presidential process with more weight than the Iowas and New Hampshires of the world. It was fitting that Mitt Romney and his opponents should face Manhattan's brutal political reporters, they opined, not to mention the upstate scribes, too.

But Romney's money, organization and -- when you get right down to it -- his ability to attract more votes, have once again nixed the prospect of a major showdown in New York. The GOP presidential primary season is over except for the formalities.

"I kind of believed we would have a competitive primary," Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy reflected a few days ago, noting the up-and-down nature of the race. "But once Romney won Michigan and then turned around to win in Wisconsin, he sealed the deal."

County Legislator Kevin Hardwick, so ardent a follower of politics that he got himself a doctorate in it, might be the most disappointed local Republican of all. He was leading the Western New York effort for Santorum.

"It's like being next in line for concert tickets when the ticket window closes," he said of the state's "close, but no cigar" effort.

As a result, Langworthy expects no visit from the presumptive nominee anywhere in New York State before the April 24 primary. And because New York is such an overwhelmingly Democratic stronghold, it's doubtful New Yorkers will see either Romney or President Obama in a state all but conceded to the Democrats in November.

Still, it is significant that Romney is due in New York City just two days after the primary to fulfill the state's traditional role in the presidential process -- fundraising.

"While not a swing state, New York -- as the country's center for finance, for media and for many ethnic and other networks -- will have a major role in electing Mitt," is how state GOP Chairman Ed Cox correctly summed up the state's role last week.

While most of that activity will be concentrated among the Big Town's money types, Buffalo will have its role. Businessmen Tony Gioia and Mark Hamister are still planning a major fundraising event for Romney this campaign season that once again will underscore New York State's one and only assignment in the presidential contest.

In addition, Gingrich is still slated to stump through our town on Friday, according to Russ Gugino, local Gingrich spokesman. The former speaker will meet with supporters and stage a public event, he said.

Gugino said he expects Friday's fundraising component to raise more than $30,000, though some observers scoff at the notion of such a sum for a doomed campaign.

"There's an affinity for the guy and an affinity for what he believes," Gugino explained. "He's the only one carrying the banner of what we call the American prosperity idea -- freedom and opportunity."

Aside from a low-key appearance by one of the also-rans, however, the New York role is now over before it began.

Bottom line: If your political junkie habit is so strong your once-every-four-years cravings must be satiated, move to Dubuque.