Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.

The traditional term for a contestant who campaigns and loses is an also-ran. Statewide elections used to produce several at a time. In 1976, the five-way US Senate Democratic primary, which Daniel Patrick Moynihan won with 36 percent of the vote, produced four also-rans at once.
But these times call for a new term: the almost-ran. At this stage, casual almost-rans seem to draw more fanfare than earnest also-rans.
First, Republicans: Ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani considered running for governor, then Senate, then chose neither. Ex-Gov. George Pataki had his name floated for Senate. The Mort Zuckerman buzz came and went, as was twice the case with Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).
Democrats have produced even more. After Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed US Senator, Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) was about to declare when President Barack Obama reportedly called him off. Count Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola), and you have three-fifths of the Long Island Congressional delegation in the almost-ran club.
Don’t forget Scott Stringer, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, and most famously, Harold Ford Jr., the Tennessee transplant. Ford’s exit followed nasty public exchanges with Gillibrand. They convincingly accused each other of being well-heeled career politicians. Dissident Democratic candidate Jonathan Tasini said when Ford withdrew: “We can now hopefully have an adult debate about changing the country based on a set of principles that last more than ten seconds.”
Ex-Nassau GOP Presiding Officer Bruce Blakeman is a Senate candidate, seeking support. But some Republicans seem for now to prefer ogling others not yet running — ex-Bush adviser David Malpass, and ex-Bush adviser Dan Senor. Ex-Westchester Rep. Joseph DioGuardi has a fan base.
Last week, Blakeman trumpeted his endorsement by a 10th county chairman, accounting for more than 22 percent of the weighted party vote. He’s been campaigning and doesn’t seem to expect anything to come easily.
Some Blakeman supporters for Senate seem to share this with Rick Lazio’s backers for governor: irritation at state chairman Ed Cox for seeking greener pastures. In that regard, Suffolk Executive Steve Levy decides soon if he’s almost-ran or candidate.
Gov. David Paterson is tough to categorize — either an also-ran for declaring or an almost-ran for quitting. Or call him an almost-also-ran.