Report by Virginia Martin
This year, when voters in the seven-county Third Judicial District go to the polls, they'll have a choice between candidates, and we say with some pride that Columbia County Democrats played an important role in that support of democracy.
Republican Anthony Carpinello, the Appellate Division Associate Justice running for re-election, was hoping for a cross-endorsement by the Democrats. In the past, that's often happened, because in many years there's only been one candidate, either a Republican or a Democrat. And so, in many years the other party has cross-endorsed.
This year, however, acting Supreme Court Judge Patrick McGrath, who had a long tenure as Rensselaer County Court Judge and before that as City of Troy Police Court Judge, as well as Assistant Rensselaer County DA, threw his hat in the ring, and Columbia County Democrats responded. After interviewing both Carpinello and McGrath and finding McGrath eminently qualified and a good Dem to boot, the Columbia County Democratic Committee was the first county committee to endorse him (and unanimously, at that).
At Friday's judicial convention, a rather astonishing number of Democrats were siding with the Republican, based, as we understand it, on the dual notions that (1) since he was the incumbent and had discharged his duties well, he deserved a clear shot at re-election, without having to fuss with the inconveniences of a challenger and the voting public, and, more importantly, that (2) there was a "deal" for supporting him that had been cut at the 2007 convention. Fact-checking around the seven counties, though, had revealed no such "deal," and even if there had been one, not only had we delegates not been party to it, but those Democrats who signed our designating petitions this summer didn't do so with the understanding that we'd either honor someone else's so-called deal OR nominate a Republican when we had a positively stellar Democrat ready to hit the campaign trail.
At any rate, our county committee voted solidly for Judge McGrath, and a (slender) majority of the other delegates did, too. Thanks are especially due our chair Chris Nolan, who, with Rensselaer County Democratic Committee Chair Tom Wade, worked to persuade other county chairs that we should be trying to bring to a close the days of polite "back-room" cross-endorsement: When a good Democrat wants to run, the last thing we should do is stand in the way.
It was a squeaker, but we won. And then, in the midst of thunderous jubilant cheers, Kinderhook's Doug McGivney charged forward to move for a nomination by acclamation, so that delegation members would leave united in their support of Judge McGrath - - and Doug's motion was seconded and affirmed unanimously, with cheers and not a single peep of dissent.
Columbia County Democrats are making waves, and this example, of giving the voters a choice, is just one of the ways we're doing that! Thanks to Chris, Doug, State Committee member Rose Aulino, who also worked hard for Judge McGrath, and all the delegates who stood up for democracy and CHOICE!
Read more about the judicial convention at the Times Union
For more info on Judge McGrath go to his website.