Friday, January 15, 2010

REBNY on the March

Daily Politics is reporting that REBNY is looking to take on the WFP in this year's state senate races: "New York's real estate industry raised $750,000 last year to elect business-friendly candidates to the City Council, and its leaders say that was just a prelude to a multimillion-dollar effort in this year's state Senate races, DN City Hall Bureau Chief Adam Lisberg reports."

But, as we have pointed out-here, here, and here-this is what is known as a necessary condition, not, however, a sufficient one. The necessary aspects is of course related to the money that REBNY and the like minded will be able to raise. What's missing-and therefore the insufficiency-is the grass roots kindling that will be able to generate real mass support for political change.

If there is no linkage, in our view, the money will be unable by itself to match the ground game of the WFP-and the results in last year's city council races shouldn't be seen by REBNY's Spinola as a harbinger of the business community's clout: "This was a trial run to figure out what it takes so that the broader business community can get behind this kind of effort," said REBNY President Steve Spinola, who recently switched his own enrollment to the Independence Party. Spinola said the group hopes to raise as much as $5 million to be active in as many as 10 of the state's 62 Senate districts this year."

Spinola, for his part, realizes that real estate can't do this on its own: "We need allies, and we think the only way to get allies is to demonstrate that it is doable," Spinola said. "It can't be just real estate, simply because the effect is too big for just real estate to deal with it." And the Independence Party needs to be more Tea Party than Liberal Party if it hopes to succeed.

There is also the lack of unanimity among even the real estate cohort: "Other business leaders paid attention to Spinola's effort in 2009, but they're not yet convinced a third-party effort would be better than simply backing candidates directly."Making a presence felt in these races is important," said Frank Ricci of the Rent Stabilization Association, which also represents city landlords. The anger level among other business groups is something I've never seen," he said. "It'll be a lot more than just real estate. But it may not all be channeled into the Independence Party if they don't choose anti-tax, pro-business candidates."

But the larger point is that the anger that Ricci rightly sees isn't simply limited to the business community-it is more generalized and free floating, and is in need of an organization component to be fully activated. If the IP sees itself exclusively as purely an electoral phenomenon than it won't be able to maximize the anger and frustration that's out there. Getting to that anger is essential for any successful opposition to the WFP.