Politics can be a nasty business, especially during a hotly contested election season. So it’s no surprise, for example, that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, are trading nasty charges that often have only glancing connections to the truth.
Nevertheless, it is rare that Western New Yorkers are subjected to a campaign as vile and devious as the one leaving its trail in the three-way race to represent the 60th State Senate District. And driving the dishonest and distorted contest are New York’s school teachers, or, more specifically, New York State United Teachers, the largest of the state’s teachers unions.
Think of it: The organization representing the people who teach – and who act as role models for – millions of young New Yorkers is engaged in a flatly deceitful effort to mislead voters, to smear the incumbent and to do whatever it can to ensure that a lawbreaker is elected. Why? Because the union, which doesn’t much care for teacher evaluations, desperately wants Democrats to control the Senate and unseating Mark Grisanti is key to achieving that dubious goal.
That effort reached its nadir – thus far, anyway – with an ad in such horrifyingly bad taste that it should make everyone who sees it blanch. Indeed, that seems to be happening, with critics from all corners criticizing VOTE-COPE, the political arm of NYSUT, for producing it.
The ad shows an image of a severely battered woman and the words “Mark Grisanti won’t protect her from her abuser.” The issue centers on the 10-point Women’s Equality Agenda, whose 10th point, critics say, codifies late-term abortions. Grisanti supports the first nine points, but opposes the abortion provision and so has voted against the measure, which supporters will not break into separate parts.
VOTE-COPE is cheerily indifferent to the criticism. Its single-minded focus is to help deliver the Senate to Democrats, and apparently by any means possible, including the exploitation of abused women – some of whom are bound to be teachers – and also by setting out to hoodwink voters.
That was NYSUT’s strategy during the run-up to September’s primary election when it disingenuously ran television ads suggesting that Grisanti wasn’t conservative enough. The result was to deliver the Republican nomination to Kevin T. Stocker, a candidate who refuses to say what he stands for and who, if elected, is almost certain to alienate anyone he deals with.
The union’s strategy – successful, so far – was to encourage the election of a candidate so off-the-charts unappealing that voters in a largely Democratic district would elect whoever the Democrats’ nominee happened to be. That is Marc C. Panepinto, who was convicted of election fraud in 2001. Grisanti, who was left to run on the Independence Party line, has been endorsed by the editorial board of The News.
There is no law against bad intentions, bad taste or bad judgment. Thus, NYSUT is within its rights in its bid to deceive voters, to toy with the issue of domestic violence and to prefer as a senator either a Republican who is dramatically unsuited to the job or a Democrat who committed a fraud against the voters.