2004-08-04 / Political Page

Ion politics

By John Toscano
Dem Convention United Behind Kerry, But They
Ion politics By John Toscano Dem Convention United Behind Kerry, But They’ll Need It In Tough Race

By John Toscano
Dem Convention United Behind Kerry, But They’ll Need It In Tough Race

From our perspective, the most significant speech given at last week’s Democratic convention in Boston was the hard-hitting blast delivered by the Reverend Al Sharpton, who minced no words in telling President George W. Bush that he didn’t have a chance to lure some black voters to his side in this year’s presidential election.

In the process, Sharpton lashed out at the president’s and the Republican’s poor record on civil rights, including the fiasco in Florida in the 2000 election where many blacks lost their chance to vote.

Of course, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, the Democratic party presidential candidate, delivered a better-than-expected speech and made the most of his military background to exploit the anti-Iraq war feeling against the president, among other issues he cited.
But Sharpton’s speech showed clearly that the Democrats came out of the convention as a united party in a position to wage their best effort in the election, including getting a better-than-usual voting performance from black voters and other Democratic Party factions.

In prior years, black Democrats always found an issue which would prevent them from getting an all-out effort, at the polls. But this feeling was not in evidence anywhere during the four day conclave.

What was clearly shown was that Sharpton’s performance was widely accepted by his fellow Democrats. It led Congressmember Charles Rangel (Manhattan), the most powerful black lawmaker in the country to observe: "It’s really frightening. There is no one out there [at the convention] for me to fight. It’s not like the Democratic Party. There is not even a rumor of anything."

What’s bringing the Dems together, all factions in the party included, is the desire to defeat Bush. The Iraq war and its high casualty rate, the economy, lack of jobs, the tax policies which were generally seen as favoring the wealthiest taxpayers, and the Medicare reform law which rankles many seniors—all these issues are energizing Democrats to give a monumental effort in the election. And they will need all the energy they can bring to the campaign.

Despite the successful convention, Kerry did not get the usual bounce in the polls that a new candidate generally receives. In fact, whereas Kerry led Bush in the polls before the convention, Monday’s newspapers reported that a Gallup poll, one of the most trusted, had Bush leading Kerry 50 to 46 percent.

These poll results were issued before the announcement of the new al Qaeda terrorist threat which targets several Wall Street financial firms and the stock exchange. Events such as these can affect the election campaign’s day-to-day flow, with possible benefits for either candidate.

At this point, Bush and Kerry are locked in a tight race, as they have been for several months, according to most polls. Despite a generally smooth convention, Kerry got only a small swell of support from it, which will no doubt be duplicated by Bush at the GOP convention at the end of the month.

The election is expected to be decided in a handful of states which both sides agree will be crucial to the election outcome in November. Which direction the significant number of undecided voters take will also affect the outcome.

The Democrats have had their turn and they left Boston as a united party thanks in part to Sharpton, who provided an unexpected boost, and to Kerry, who also performed better than expected.

Bush’s turn will come at the GOP convention beginning August 29 at Madison Square Garden. After that, there will be a no-holds-barred campaign through September and October that will take us to "V-Day"—Voting Day—in early November. It promises to be an exciting campaign that will be waged right down to the wire.

CONVENTION WRAP UP: Former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer got a chance to address the Democratic convention when those running the show realized that while there were many black speakers scheduled to address the delegates, no Hispanic pols had been included among the speakers.

The choice of Ferrer, a leading Democratic candidate for mayor next year, raised some protests. In his remarks, Ferrer observed that Bush speaks some Spanish, but advised the president not to try to woo Hispanic voters in their own language because his policies are "bad in any language."

MEEKS SPOKE, SPITZER DIDN’T: Among the many pols who got a chance to address the convention was Congressmember Gregory Meeks, a black lawmaker from Southeast queens who was Kerry’s top supporter in the borough during the delegate selection period last March.

However, state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer never got to the podium, although he was on an early list of speakers as the highest-ranked Democratic elected official in the state. Rumors spread that U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, who did get to speak, had pulled some strings to get Spitzer scratched from the list because he’s expected to be a Schumer rival in next year’s gubernatorial election. Schumer denied the rumors.

COMMENT FROM LIU: City Councilmember John Liu (D-Flushing) was at the convention as a super delegate, one of several elected officials chosen by Queens Democratic Leader Thomas Manton to attend the conference.

He stated, "This year’s presidential election is more critical than ever before. I am proud to be among the Democrats here clamoring to take back the White House—setting the right course in education, providing access to health care for all Americans and restoring America’s status as a leader in the world community."

CROWLEY CONDEMNS UN DECISION: Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx) recently co-sponsored a resolution which condemned a decision by the United Nations requesting the International Court of Justice for an opinion on the legality of the controversial Israeli security fence. The Crowley-backed resolution passed by a 361 to 45 vote.

YOUNG GIULIANI ALL GROWN UP: A decade or so ago, Andrew Giuliani, then 8 years old, all but stole the show when his father, Rudy, was being sworn in as mayor of New York City. Over the years, Andrew faded into the background, mainly because his mom and dad felt it would do him no good to be in the limelight at such a tender age.

It was, therefore, a pleasant surprise last week when a newspaper story reported that Andrew, now 18 and a student at a New Jersey private school, may be a budding golf star.

Andrew, according to the story, was the only one of more than 65 entrants in an American Junior Golf Association tournament to break par on the opening day of the tournament on Long Island. As the tournament headed into its final day, Andrew was in a three-way tie for sixth, four strokes behind the leaders.

SERF’S FUNDRAISER, CAMPAIGN KICK OFF: State Senator Serphin Maltese kicks off his bid for a ninth term tonight with a fundraiser at Roma View Caterers in Howard Beach. The Middle Village lawmaker, who doubles as Queens Republican leader, heads the influential state senate Cities Committee and previously headed the Consumer Affairs and Veterans Affairs panels. With 312,000 constituents, the most of any senator, his district stretches from Middle Village and Maspeth to Howard Beach.

WEPRIN AIDE NEW DM AT CB11: Community Board 11 in Northeast Queens has a new district manager, Susan Seinfeld, presently director of constituent services for City Councilmember David Weprin (D–Hollis). She replaces Ann Marie Boranian, who resigned recently after holding the post for 13 years.
Seinfeld previously worked for former Councilmember Sheldon Leffler and for the late Congressmember Benjamin Rosenthal.

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