Politics changed in NNY when a decade ago an unsuccessful candidate for Assembly marked the day when our political backwater joined the rest of the money-dominated political process in this nation.
Darrel Aubertine ran against Bob Nortz. He lost but the effort was robust enough that along with redistricting, Mr. Nortz didn't run in 2002 and Aubertine won.
The North Country had always been a simple place with the GOP team routinely reelected with little effort. Democratic candidates were mediocre and underfunded. Unlike elsewhere candidates were not millionaires or lawyers.
Now we see race after race funded by outside interests and the people who live here are just bystanders in campaigns run by operatives and funded by groups and individuals who couldn't name a city in NY23.
Such races escalated with the open seat special election for Senate in February, 2008.....In a district where a $20 spaghetti dinner passes for fundraising, candidates were spending millions of dollars.
Really, now many of you have ever given more than 100, or 500, or 1000 dollars to a campaign ?
Now in 2010, we have bonafide millionaires running for Congress and all the local races will be a festival of spending that so pleases local broadcasters.
Our current Congressman openly admits this is his best gig ever and enjoys the trappings of life in Congress, including getting to play softball in a major league ballpark.
His primary challenger is a hard worker and is aggressive in seeking the seat. Beyond that he is an unknown who still doesn't have the comfortable fit a John McHugh had by the time he moved up to Congress.
People don't move up anymore. They drop in at a point in life where they can. Most people can't fit that into a busy life making a living. They don't make more being a director of a bank than most people here make in a year...They don't sell their law practice for $4million or get performance bonuses in excess of $6million.
The candidates are going to have to show a connection to people...Not just a commercial with the candidate dressed like a gentleman farmer or trite assurances of "North Country values."
Now I like these folks and have had the pleasure of meeting them all, but you have to admit politics has changed in these parts the last few years.