This editorial was first published in the Times Herald-Record (Middletown, New York), a fellow GateHouse Media publication. Guest editorials don't necessarily reflect the Daily Messenger's opinions.
New York government and politics has swayed significantly and persistently in the progressive direction in the past few years, most visible in the recently completed legislative session influenced by the elections last November that put Democrats, many of them progressive, in charge of the Senate and added to their domination of the Assembly.
Now, with the results of a Queens primary for district attorney showing the same signs that reveal the strength of the progressive movement, there is more talk about more candidates with similar agendas taking on the remaining centrists in the Democratic party,
So what are Republicans doing to counter this? Are they looking to history and remembering that New York once was a model of compromise and decorum where Democrats and liberal Republicans were able to attract votes and work together for New Yorkers?
No, they’ve decided that if the state is going left, they are going to go right.
The evidence is most visible in the change of leadership at the top of the state Republican Party. It was headed for a decade by Ed Cox, a Harvard Law School grad, son-in-law of Richard Nixon, lawyer in a Manhattan firm whose current and former partners are a veritable who’s-who of the bipartisan power elite.
Carl Paladino, the Buffalo bully whose embarrassing loss to Andrew Cuomo two gubernatorial races ago showed how inept this hard-right strategy is in New York, once described Cox as "very much an establishment puppy."
Now, despite having morphed into a loyal Trump supporter, Cox is out as GOP leader but will pretend that he still counts by asking people to give money to the Trump campaign. Replacing him as the head of the state GOP is the chairman of the Erie County Republican Party, Nick Langworthy, a Paladino clone and ally.
So if you liked the way Paladino brandished that baseball bat when he ran for governor, if you like the unique judicial temperament displayed by Judge Jeanine Pirro on Fox, you’ll love this new attempt by New York Republicans to win the hearts and minds of the state electorate.
As most elections in the state reveal, there is not much fertile ground on the right when it comes to winning offices. But there is the possibility that Democrats have gone too far, have risked public disapproval with such issues as allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver’s license. And the state GOP is making no secret about its loyalty to and reliance on Donald Trump to make things right, in both senses of the word.
Imagine if Democrats a few years ago had appealed to President Obama to undo something that the state Legislature had done. Republicans would have howled so loudly we would still be hearing the echos. But this is exactly what some county clerks and Republican legislators have done, turning to the president to see if he can block the new state law.
It’s not so much a legal argument as a very odd political one, reminding New Yorkers that if you like Donald Trump — and a significant majority does not — you will like Republicans in the state.