Will Conservatives Reward Sandy Treadwell for Failure? – By George J. Marlin

New York’s 20th Congressional District, whose boundaries include the economically depressed areas around Albany and the affluent Lake Placid region, has been reliably Republican for generations.

Last November, however, the District’s four-term Republican Congressman John Sweeney was defeated by political neophyte, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.  Analysts claim that Sweeney’s loss was self-inflicted.  Allegations of reckless behavior, they say, did him in.

Because registered Republicans and Conservatives outnumber Democrats, the 20th C.D. is targeted as a seat to be retaken in 2008.  At the moment the likely GOP nominee is Alexander “Sandy” Treadwell, who started running for the position the day after Sweeney conceded.

Treadwell, who served as Governor Pataki’s Secretary of State, New York’s Republican Chairman and R.N.C. committeeman, is a classic political ne’er-do-well.  After watching Treadwell in action, the Post’s Albany political editor, Fred Dicker, referred to him as “insular, elitist and ideologically anemic” and tagged him as an “immensely Caspar Milquetoast-like trust funder.”

Under Chairman Treadwell, the GOP’s fortunes declined.  Republican county executives were evicted in three major GOP strongholds:  Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.  Assembly Democrats added to their veto-proof majority and the Republican Senate majority eroded.

In 2004, Treadwell gave New Yorkers that year’s biggest Republican joke — the U.S. Senate candidacy of Howard Mills, running against incumbent Charles Schumer.

Managing to get attention in the campaign only when he declared, “I reject [political] labels…I am not into labels,” Mills wasn’t much of anything, and the results proved it:  he got 24 percent of the vote — the lowest percentage in history for a statewide senate candidate in New York.

Reviewing the results, a Post editorial asked:  “How Treadwell can show his face at GOP national headquarters after the Mills debacle is a bewilderment.”

Treadwell not only showed his face, he was rewarded for failure.  Pataki named him New York’s member of the Republican National Committee.

In his quest to oppose Congresswoman Gillibrand, Treadwell is aggressively courting the N.Y. Conservative Party for its nomination.  Washington’s Roll Call recently quoted him as saying, “It’s obviously something I want very much.  It’s something I’m working hard to earn.”

To enhance his prospects Treadwell paid top dollar for a dais seat at the Conservative Party’s state dinner, and he has been spotted hanging out at the Lake Placid American Legion Hall bar playing the common man.

These overtures are purely theatrical — for Sandy Treadwell is a classic Rockefeller liberal Republican.

During Treadwell’s tenure as Republican chairman, he moved his party to the left and defended Governor Pataki’s liberal fiscal and social policies.

Sadly, Treadwell’s failed leftist strategy still has defenders.  Westchester County Republican consultant, Michael Edelman, told Roll Call the following about the 20th C.D. race:  “The problem in New York is that the Conservative Party has entirely too much to say about who the Republican Party runs….Any candidate that has to lock step with the Conservative social right-wing agenda in order to get the nomination…is not going to beat the [Democratic] incumbent….Only a centrist is going to win [this] Congressional [election].

The Conservative Party the problem?  No so!

Republicans enjoyed their greatest victories in the Hudson Valley district when they enthusiastically embraced conservative principles.  Ten-term representative Gerald Solomon (1978-1998), a Republican Congressional icon, was an unabashed conservative.  Endorsed by both the Conservative and Right to Life Parties, Solomon averaged over 65% of the vote in his ten elections and his American Conservative Union (ACU) Legislative ratings average exceeded 90%.

Sweeney was elected in November 1998 as a movement conservative, but when he moved to the left, both his ACU ratings and margins of victory dropped.

Sweeney forgot the lesson of the 1980s and early 1990s that running as a Democratic-lite candidate is a losing strategy.  That’s because Republicans can never out-promise or out-spend Democrats.

Hudson Valley Conservatives will soon decide if Sandy Treadwell, an architect of this failed electoral strategy, deserves their support for Congress.  Are they going to endorse a liberal who gives lip service to conservative principles?  Are they going to reward Treadwell for failure?

The Conservative Party was born in response to the rise of Nelson Rockefeller’s liberal Republicanism.  Its mission has been to keep the Republicans honest.

To maintain that role and to knock some sense into New York’s GOP establishment, Conservatives should set an example in the 20th Congressional District.  Treadwell should be denied their nomination.

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7 Comments on “Will Conservatives Reward Sandy Treadwell for Failure? – By George J. Marlin”

  1. chris Says:

    Treadwell was the butler for the liberal Pataki. Sure he has money but I thought it was the role of the Independence party to be for sale. Its only fitting for a party that stands for nothing.

  2. CNYConservative Says:

    Interesting analysis of the 20th CD race, George. You should take an in depth look at the race for Onondaga Co. Executive. The Republican primary pitts Reagan conservative Dale Sweetland against the Rockefelleresque Joanie Mahoney (who, oddly, is the daughter of a former real conservative Assemblyman). Sweetland also has the Conservative and Independence endorsements. This is a classic intra-party GOP battle. You should take a look at it, George.

  3. lisa h. hall Says:

    Yes, Sandy Treadwell is a moderate Republican, and speaking as an independent, he’s the only Republican running for the 20th Congressional District seat that I could vote for. And I’m sure I’m not alone. Rather than a rural district, the 20th CD is an increasingly suburban and exurbanite district. Treadwell is the only Republican who has a chance of winning the seat.

  4. The NYCR Says:

    Karol, I agree with you. However, with multiple candidates on the field gunning for the GOP nod, we don’t have to make that kind of decision yet. At the end of the day, we do want that seat back, and it all comes down to my belief that Rocque will energize our people more than Treadwell will.

  5. Jacob Says:

    The NY GOP needs to get back to the grassroots conservative/libertarian philosophy of small government and free market fiscal policy. The big turn Left that came with Gov. Pataki has been a disaster for the party and NY state.

  6. The NYCR Says:

    Good analysis. I take it you agree that Mike Rocque would be the best candidate?

  7. Karol Says:

    I would choose Sandy over any given Democrat any day of the week. NY Republicans are far from perfect, that’s true, but I prefer to agree on some issues with them than on no issues with their Democratic opponents.


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