Why Senator Gillibrand will not debate Long

| lpenner@queenscourier.com |

Junior New York State Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has never been bashful around a camera or microphone just like her mentor Senior New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer. She will follow the infamous Rose Garden strategy of ignoring her Republican/Conservative challenger Wendy Long.

With less than ten weeks to election day, she has yet to commit to participate in any public debates. It is apparent that Gillibrand prefers to hide behind both her voter registration advantage of Democrats outnumbering Republicans by 2,021,021, along with a $10 million and growing campaign kitty.

Long is essentially broke . How much of Gillibrand’s funds have been raised from the infamous Washington K Street lobbyists, Pay for Play and other special interest groups. Her campaign will soon start to get her message out via canned television commercials versus a face-to-face debate. Future Gillibrand television ads will omit any reference to support of President Barack Obama, Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), health care, cap and trade, stimulus program, cash for clunkers, bailouts, Solyndra and other “green energy” boondoggles, along with the other failures that have left us with an 8 percent unemployment rate and another $5 trillion in national debt. Gillibrand will run away from her old friends and legislative record both of which have become unpopular among voters.

Gillibrand starts out with many advantages not available to her unknown challenger Long. Since being elected in 2010 to fill out the remaining two years of former Senator Hillary Clinton’s term in office, Gillibrand has benefited from daily television, radio and newspaper exposure, press conferences, newsletters, guest columns in newspapers, letters to the editor and speaking engagements on a regular basis. She also have the perks of public office, including announcements of member items many of which are consider local pork-barrel projects. These are used to raise her name recognition and assist in greasing the wheels of re-election. Schumer has been at her side, mentoring his apprentice on his tricks of the trade to prepare her for this upcoming campaign.

In the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, both Democratic and Republican primary candidates participated in numerous television and newspaper editorial board debates. Voters could look beyond the 30- or 60-second TV commercial sound bites to learn about real views and issues among the candidates.

Those candidates who refused to participate in these debates would be subject to critical newspaper and television editorials. They ended up losing any chance of newspaper endorsements and usually went down to defeat in either the primary or general election.

In the 1980s, a new Rose Garden strategy emerged. Incumbents refused to debate lesser-known, under-funded opponents in the general election. They had no interest in providing a free forum for challengers to get their message directly to voters. Too many newspaper, television and good government groups failed to speak up and shame these incumbents into participating in open forums and debates.

When then Brooklyn Democratic Congressmember Schumer ran against incumbent Republican Senator Alfonse D’Amato in 1998, he constantly cried about the lack of debates. As an incumbent Senator, both in 2004 and 2010 he hid behind his overwhelming Democrat to Republican enrollment advantage and $20 million to his challengers $1 million campaign budget. Schumer refused to participate in more than one or two last minute token debates with his unknown under financed, second tier Republican/Conservative opponents. Watch Gillibrand follow the same tactics as Schumer in dealing with Long.

Let us hope that enlightened weekly newspapers such as the Queens Courier along with other daily and weekly newspapers, television and radio stations call for an end to incumbents whether Democrat or Republican refusing to debate. Intelligent voters deserve frequent debates between the past June primary and upcoming Tuesday, November 6th general election. Why not hold debates in each of New York States 62 counties starting with Queens County? There is sufficient time between now and November 6th to do so. Even holding them in every major metropolitan area media market including New York City, Long Island, Hudson Valley, Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and others would be far more than Schumer or Gillibrand ever committed to in previous elections.

If candidates like Gillibrand refuse to participate in these series of debates, they should be subject to critical newspaper, television and radio station editorials. Gillibrand should forfeit any chance of endorsements by media outlets. Intelligent voters who are concerned about our nations future should consider another alternative on November 6.