New Year Brings Renewed Hopes To Pols
Looking back to the start of 2007, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rudy Giuliani were leading the pack in their respective Democratic and Republican parties. Both were widely expected to win their parties' nominations for president in the then far-off election in November 2008.
Here in New York state, coming off a landslide victory, Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer was preparing to be sworn in as governor, where he would lay out ambitious plans and programs in his inaugural year.
In Washington, Democrats in the Senate and House were looking forward to the first session in a long time where they would control both houses. They looked forward, like Spitzer, to enacting major programs and, hopefully, ending the war in Iraq.
Now, at the end of an eventful year, Rudy and Hillary are fighting like mad to stay at the top of the heap, Spitzer got off on the wrong foot and is still hopelessly squirming in a mess of his own making.
Democrats in Washington can look back on some successes and failures, and we're a little closer to getting out of Iraq.
Looking ahead to the start of 2008 next Tuesday, we hope you're ready for a really big year, topped, of course, by the election of the next president of the United States.
Also on the ballot will be Congressional and state legislative elections. Democrats, looking hopefully at signs indicating they may recapture the White House after eight years under George W. Bush, are also encouraged that they can retain control of both houses and enact major changes on their favorite issues.
Democrats on the state level, pretty well assured of retaining control of the Assembly, have been making plans to take control of the state senate also, with Spitzer leading the attack.
The plan calls for the Dems to defeat several incumbent Republicans and put the senate under Democratic control for the first time in several decades. That would get Spitzer's nemesis, Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, out of the picture and give the Dems total control in Albany.
Queens will play a major role in that plan. Spitzer and the Democrats have targeted the borough's two Republican senators, Frank Padavan and Serphin Maltese, for defeat in their re-election attempts.
Padavan will be opposed by City Councilmember James Gennaro, of Jamaica Estates, and Maltese will draw Councilmember Joseph Addabbo Jr. of Ozone Park as an opponent.
Needless to say, Padavan and Maltese, both long-time, experienced lawmakers, are preparing for what should be major battles to hold on to their seats.
However, Spitzer will still have to deal with the lingering effects of Troopergate, his failed attempt to prove Bruno used state helicopters for political purposes. The investigation into whether Spitzer staff members perjured themselves during the effort to get Bruno is still going on, and somewhere along the way the governor will have to testify publicly about what he knew or didn't know about the failed attempt to get Bruno.
Putting first things first, presidential campaigns will get their first real tests next Thursday when the Democratic and Republican candidates for the presidential nominations face voters in the Iowa caucuses.
For the Democrats, Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards are locked in a tight race that any of them can win.
On the Republican side, according to the polls, Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, has surged into the favorite spot, followed by Mitt Romney, John McCain, Giuliani and Fred Thompson, with Romney the only runner given a chance to pull off an upset.
The Iowa caucuses will be followed closely by the first of 49 state primaries in New Hampshire on January 8.
Last week, the latest polls found Giuliani still fading, but Clinton continuing to lead in national polls while running a very close second to Obama in Iowa. Another poll found Clinton with a comfortable, 12- point lead over Obama in New Hampshire.
Giuliani, who appears to have no chance in any of the early primaries, has placed all his hopes of getting back in the race on Super Tuesday, February 5, when 22 states are scheduled to hold primary elections. New York, California and several other states that send large delegations to the nominating conventions will hold primaries on super Tuesday.
However, as we've pointed out, New York's former mayor is losing ground in national polls and may lose further ground if and when early primaries stamp him as a loser. This may develop into one of the major dramatic moments of 2008- the entrance of Mayor Michael Bloomberg into the presidential race as an independent.
Since speculation began earlier this year that Bloomberg might take the plunge if the right moment presented itself, one scenario making this possible was felt to be the indications that the Republican candidate would have no chance against Clinton, or any other Democrat. Bloomberg could then come in as an independent and pick up support of the Republican voters, as well. It would be an exciting development.
VOTE OF CONFIDENCE: The Republican State Committee issued a strong vote of confidence in Giuliani's presidential candidacy, emphasizing that he is the most electable candidate and had been tested during his run as New York City's mayor, both before and after September 11.
MALTESE'S BIRTHDAY FUNDRAISER: Senator Serphin Maltese, combining business with pleasure, turned his recent birthday party into a reelection campaign fundraiser. More than 30 guests attended, including Queens Republican Party Chairman Philip Ragusa and 2009 GOP mayoral hopeful John Catsimatides. Rudy Giuliani and Joe Bruno sent congratulations.