Michael Balboni: Albany’s Lonely Man? – By George J. Marlin
Last fall Governor-elect Spitzer urged North Hempstead Republican Senator Michael Balboni to resign his office and join the new administration as Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security.
Balboni, convinced he was an expert on the subject because in 2003 as Chairman of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee he added “Homeland Security” to the title, accepted the position.
Publicly, the appointment was portrayed as a bi-partisan gesture; privately, Albany Democrats boasted it was part of their plan to take control of the State Senate.
Balboni’s Senate resignation created a vacant seat Democrats believed was ripe for the picking. And Democrats were prepared to fight. They had plenty of money and a credible candidate waiting in the wings — Nassau County Legislator, Craig Johnson, an early Spitzer supporter.
In the special election campaign, Democrats outspent and out-organized GOP Boss Joe Mondello’s rusty political machine. Governor Spitzer took an active roll, even campaigning at local Super Bowl parties right before the election.
On Tuesday, February 6, 2007, the Spitzer plan succeeded — Johnson won by a wide margin.
Although many Republicans and Conservatives were stunned that Balboni betrayed his constituents, Senate conference and party, his decision to join a Democratic administration should not have been a surprise.
An examination of Balboni’s Senate voting record reveals he regularly deserted conservative principles and sided with liberals. His 2000-2006 Conservative Party Legislative Voting Score average was only 46 percent.
In his final years in the Senate, Balboni:
– Voted for the State’s Gay Rights Bill;
– Voted for the Family Assistance Budget which finances abortion;
– Voted to end the “conscience clause” for religious institutions which forces Catholic educational and medical institutions to provide services contrary to religious principles;
– Voted twice in 2003 for the largest tax increases since liberal Nelson Rockefeller was governor.
Balboni also told Newsday reporter Lawrence Levy in August 2004, “with my record I’d probably be a moderate Democrat if I lived in a Republican state.”
And Senator Balboni sought and accepted, in 2004, the nomination of the extreme left-wing Working Families Party.
The Working Families Party stands for everything Conservatives oppose. Manhattan Institute political analyst Sol Stern described the leaders of that party as promoters of a “1960s-bred agenda of anti-capitalism, central planning, victimology and government handouts to the poor.”
Conservatives, however, should not despair, for there is just retribution.
Albany political wags say Balboni is a lonely figurehead. Spitzer insiders have frozen him out because they don’t trust a Republican turncoat.
To add to his woes, Balboni failed to secure his Homeland Security office. His top aide, William Howard, was exposed as a key plotter in the Troopergate scandal.
It appears that Balboni spends his time rushing to FBI and NYPD press conferences hoping to squeeze himself into group photos.
In The Divine Comedy, Dante assigned traitors to his lowest circle in Hell. Michael Balboni may be learning the hard way, that betraying one’s principles for career advancement can be a living hell.