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McKinstry: Will a Democratic primary in Westchester help Rob Astorino?
Noam Bramson’s entry into the Westchester county executive race today presents an interesting dilemma for Democrats: Will a primary help or hurt their efforts to oust Republican Rob Astorino?
Some Democratic insiders say no, as long as the campaign isn’t a battle royal of flying elbows and super slams before the main November event.
Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick said a crowded race – which now includes Bramson, Leg. Bill Ryan of White Plains and presumably Board Chairman Ken Jenkins, who hasn’t yet announced but is expected to soon – could codify the Democrats’ anti-Astorino message and bolster turnout in a county where Dems have a roughly 2-to-1 registration advantage.
“When done correctly, primaries are helpful,” Lesnick told me this week. “The momentum of a primary could actually be helpful if people talk about the issues.”
He cited Rep. Nita’s Lowey’s primary win in 1988, where she defeated Hamilton Fish III and went on to unseat two-term Congressman Joseph DioGuardi, a Republican, by 3 percent of the vote.
Regardless of the candidate, you can expect Democrats to cast Astorino as an unsympathetic slasher of government services. They’ll cite his cuts to day care, social services and his laying off of county – mostly union – workers as examples.
Astorino will present himself as a responsible steward of tax dollars, having not raised them for three years straight.
Still some Republicans are chomping at the prospect of Democrats beating the heck out of each other. Neither Bramson, a Harvard-educated city mayor, and Jenkins, a longtime Astorino foe who chairs the Board of Legislators, have yet secured the party faithful.
Because of that a Democratic primary could be “brutal,” said Mike Edelman, a longtime Republican consultant.
“That’s the party of ‘Let’s fight it out’,” Edelman said. “The DNA of the Democratic Party is infighting."
Astorino has been a disciplined campaigner from day one. Democrats will have to be as well.
And there’s a lot of line for both parties: Astorino is considered to be a rising star within the GOP and Democrats would love to get back a seat they held for 12 years before losing it. You can be sure there will be a lot of time, energy and resources poured into these campaigns.
The question for Democrats is how much will they spend in running against themselves.
Pictured above: Noam Bramson.