A vote for Laura Lavine is a vote for Andrew Cuomo.
That’s the bottom line for Republican voters in the Syracuse mayoral election.
A vote for the Republican candidate can do nothing but empower Andrew Cuomo.
That paradox arises in a unique contest in which the leading candidates are Democrat Juanita Perez-Williams and independent Ben Walsh. Polling shows Walsh surging, and with a slight lead, while Laura Lavine – with 7-percent support – is in a distant tie for third with a guy who’s not even a candidate.
In other words: There is no way Laura Lavine can win. The math simply doesn’t work.
That leaves her Republican supporters with a decision to make. Do they cast their vote as a party protest, or do they try to engage the election and determine its outcome? Do they stand for party, or do they try to help Syracuse emerge from a crippling decade?
I suggest the latter.
I suggest that the logical and patriotic move for Lavine supporters is to vote for Ben Walsh.
Walsh is a genuine independent. Though somewhere on the moderate-to-progressive spectrum, he doesn’t belong to either party.
And that means he doesn’t belong to Andrew Cuomo.
Which cannot be said for Juanita Perez-Williams.
She has worked for Andrew Cuomo, says she will have close and comfortable ties to him, and the organizing force behind her campaign is a former Cuomo aide named Joe Rossi. Rossi helped lead a super PAC that backed Hillary Clinton in the last election, and he is a lobbyist with Park Strategies, the Alphonse D’Amato coven that is the second-largest political-influence operation in New York. D’Amato, once a Republican, is Kirsten Gillibrand’s patron.
All of which means that Juanita comes with some strings attached.
When a D’Amato/Cuomo hack led the group that drafted you, and seems to be secretly running your campaign, you look more like a hand-picked product than a naturally arising leader. With those sort of connections, it is natural to question Juanita’s independence, and ask who she would work for – the professional influence peddlers who put her in power, or the people?
It is also natural to ask if a candidate who only moved into the city seven years ago – because she was required to to accept a political appointment at City Hall – has the sort of roots and connection necessary to serve and represent a city with Syracuse’s unique challenges.
So what’s this have to do with Laura Lavine voters?
If they vote for Laura Lavine, Juanita Perez-Williams probably wins. If they vote for Ben Walsh, he probably wins.
There are a certain number of votes in flux, and Laura Lavine’s supporters can determine where that flux goes. They can pick the next mayor.
And I would suggest that Ben Walsh is a candidate closer to their heart, and worthy of their support.
Walsh is not a Republican. And he has worked for Democrat mayors. But he has done so in a fashion that has respected all and ostracized none. He engages everybody and belongs to nobody. Further, the biggest successes in Syracuse’s recent years have Ben Walsh’s fingerprints on them. He is a leader, but he is not a boaster.
And while being able to work with Andrew Cuomo, he won’t be beholden to Andrew Cuomo. There is no invisible hand behind the Ben Walsh campaign. There are no lobbyists telling him what to do.
And there are roots of integrity and service that go back before you were born.
The first Syracuse Walshes got off the boat from Ireland. Their son was mayor, his son went to Congress, and his son is on the ballot tomorrow. But this is shoe leather, not silver spoon, and Ben Walsh is a leading candidate for mayor because he has spent his entire adult life working in a tireless, non-partisan and good-hearted fashion. He’s blue collar, not blue blood, and his polite grace show you that the moment you shake his hand.
He is worthy of support.
And he will be a good mayor for Syracuse.
And Laura Lavine’s voters can help put him there.
Or, by sticking