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A Biz PAC’s Polarizing Party Politics

March 23, 2010

Be careful what you wish for. For some time now, NT2’s brain trust has been arguing for a countervailing force to the all-powerful unions in New York. We’ve lamented the business community’s failure to speak with a unified voice for measures that could help make New York more competitive.

Enter one Andrew J. Rudnick. He’s the president of the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership, the lead business advocacy group in Western New York. Rudnick apparently has convinced several regional business alliances to launch a new PAC.

This sounds promising, right? Maybe there’ll finally be an organization to push back against the yearly ad blitzes by SEIU 1199.  Maybe we’ll finally develop some influential backing for a real economic development agenda in New York State.

But wait a minute. The stated purpose of this particular PAC is not to counter union propaganda or push infrastructure improvements or job creation strategies. No, the purpose of this PAC is to target Democrats in the State Senate.

Says Mr. Rudnick: “If everyone is Democrat and downstate, we’re screwed … “We’re all about trying to change that…We’ll have to put in hundreds of thousands of dollars per targeted race… We’re pretty convinced that we can do it.”

Think about this: Mr. Rudnick and his friends aren’t using their money and influence to advance public policy initiatives — they are becoming an arm of the Republican party and fanning the flames of excessive partisanship in Albany. It’s because of that partisanship that nothing ever gets done at the Capitol. The sides never come together to do what’s right.

Just what is Mr. Rudnick thinking?  That the Democrats in the Assembly will let him in the door after his jihad? That Andrew Cuomo is going to welcome him with open arms?

And does Rudnick really believe that if Republicans return to power in the Senate, they’ll suddenly push back against the teachers’ unions and health care worker unions? Where has Rudnick been for the last decade? Starting with Pataki, and continuing to Bruno and Skelos, the Republicans have been falling over themselves to do whatever 1199 and NYSUT tell them to do.

Now it would definitely be a good thing if business leaders got together and identified some priorities to improve the business climate in New York. It would be a good thing if they translated those priorities into legislative initiatives and then lobbied for their passage. It would also be a good thing for them to get more involved in the political system in key races where economic issues are paramount.

But it would be a colossally dumb thing for them to launch Mr. Rudnick’s polarizing political scheme.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Hugh permalink
    March 23, 2010 12:40 PM

    Apparently you’re not from Upstate. We have a little different perspective up here.

    “Now it would definitely be a good thing if business leaders got together and identified some priorities to improve the business climate in New York. It would be a good thing if they translated those priorities into legislative initiatives and then lobbied for their passage.”

    This has all been done time and time again. But it’s more than clear that the only way Albany elected officials are going to change their ways is to threaten the thing they value most – their reelection. You think the State Senate would’ve passed a budget bill yesterday with no tax increases if Scott Brown hadn’t won the election in Massachusetts? No way. Voter anger is at an all-time high, and these people know they’re on their way out. And you know what? They’ve earned it!

    Rudnick is right on! You’re right – the goal should be making a better business climate. But as an Upstater, I’ve learned that I can’t rely on NYC Dems to do what’s in the best interests of MY business climate. In fact, they’ve done exactly the opposite. So Upstaters are wrong in wanting to change that?

    • March 23, 2010 3:15 PM

      Hugh,

      The sentiment you express is genuine and warranted. The Democrats clearly have not been attentive enough to upstate economic concerns. But it’s not just the Dems who’ve failed miserably at this. It’s both parties over a long period.

      For this reason, we believe Mr. Rudnick is wrong to engage in the manner he is proposing. We think that the stature and effectiveness of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership will be undermined by blatant partisanship.

      In this regard, it is simply not good strategy to attack only Democrats in a state that is likely be dominated by Democrats for many years to come.

      We think Mr. Rudnick would be much more effective in pressuring both parties. On this point, you seem to suggest that it has all been done before with no effect. Not so. The business community has been almost invisible in recent years in state policy debates. It’s all been one-sided, with the unions, specifically 1199, HANYS and NYSUT, having disproportionate influence by virtue of their heaving lobbying and advertising.

      As for your point about us not understanding the upstate, you should know that, once upon a time, we had season tickets for the Braves at the Aud. Those were the days!

      – NT2

  2. April 5, 2010 4:22 PM

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