Sunday, February 14, 2010

Morticia to Run?

If this were April, we night have thought that it was some kind of an April Fool's joke-the idea just floated that the Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman was contemplating a run for the NY Senate seat held by Kirsten Gillibrand. But, hey the NY Times only reports that he is, "weighing," a challenge, so all of this might just be vanity leaking.

This to us, is the classic case of mixed feelings-you know, like watching your mother-in-law go off a cliff in your brand new Mercedes. Zuckerman is one of the prime sponsors of the over turn term limits campaign on behalf of fellow billionaire Mike Bloomberg. In the process-and continuing to this day-Morticia shamelessly shills for the mayor whenever possible.

And his campaign for mayoral control of the schools, Bloomberg's signature issue, was a picked clean out of the Goebbels's playbook-uncritically repeating the mayor's campaign talking points, while ignoring dissonant federal test data that pointed to, well, the fraudulent nature of the mayor's claims of educational progress.

Here's how the Times reports the possibility of a Morticia candidacy: "Mr. Zuckerman regards Ms. Gillibrand as vulnerable to a challenge and is hoping that, at a time of economic tumult and political unrest, his background as an outsider to government, and his record as a business executive, will appeal to the state’s electorate, these people said."

Earth to Mort: the folks are not only upset with government. They are also peeved about media mendacity and the lack of concern for average folks. That's what the grass roots Tea Party movement is all about. Having a billionaire publisher candidate for the US Senate whose editorial shilling for the over turning of the term limits voter referendum led to the lavishly successful Bloomberg campaign for a third term, is not going to resonate, we believe, with the angry mood of the voters.

In addition, the Daily News is so thoroughly anti-labor that the Zuckerman candidacy is likely to unleash a tsunami of working families style activism that would propel a Gillibrand campaign like nothing that the junior senator could possibly do for herself. Unlike Scott Brown, who projected a average guy persona, we don't see Mort motoring around the state in a pick up truck in an effort to mitigate his editorial union bashing.

And then there's the Daily News' efforts to tar baby what seems to us like any minority politician that they can find-from Rangel to Espada, to Monseratte, to Smith, to Meeks. When seen in contrast with his silence on Bloomberg-we're still waiting for the editorial on the mayor's mysterious $1.2 million last minute campaign allocation that seems to have paid for the house of a thoroughly disreputable Bloomberg ally (a story that the DN's Adam Lisberg broke today)-the invidiousness seems obvious, and will be exploited if Mort runs.

But all of this gets us to the case of the hapless Gillibrand-and why this is a classic case of mixed feelings. There is simply no justification for the re-election of the junior senator, a candidate hand picked by a detested sitting governor who is also simply a muñeca of Chuck
Schumer. Gillibrand, as we have stated many, many times before, has absolutely no moral core principles and is in many ways a perfect caricature of the shiftless politician.

And make no mistake about it, Zuckerman's big bucks investment would be a serious challenge to Gillibrand-even with all of the flaws we have laid out. But what's really intriguing, is the potential impact that Mort's challenge would have on Democrats.

Jonathan Tobin lays this out (even while consistently misspelling the junior senator's name): " So Schumer has used his considerable fund-raising power to not only help build Gillibrand’s campaign account, but to also help intimidate possible foes such as Manhattan Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney from pursuing the race. But the problem with this scheme is that Gillibrand has made such a poor impression in the Senate that despite Schumer’s best efforts, some Democrats still think that not only can they do better but also that she is potentially vulnerable in November. Gillibrand’s weakness is accentuated by the possibility that the mid-term election this fall will feature a Republican tide sweeping the country."

Zuckerman's entry into this race may well force the Dems into remedial action: "When the only Republicans considering a run for the Senate were unknowns with little chances of victory in November, Gillibrand’s cipher-like profile wasn’t an obstacle to a Democratic victory. But against a candidate like Zuckerman, whose vast fortune would make her considerable war chest look like a pittance, a safe Democratic seat might become a tossup."

And, as Tobin concludes: "But with a billionaire GOP candidate looming in the wings, you’d have to expect that some Democrats who are reluctantly backing Gillibrand would re-examine their options." So, in this vein-and perhaps in this vein only-we welcome Morticia's run. It will likely shake things up in both parties, bloody the patrician Zuckerman in the process-and create chaos; a circumstance that we always root for.