For the last seven years I was paid money to evaluate local races.
I learned quickly which "brands" (a new phrase for elective candidates) were strong and run winning races no matter how the economy of the area weathered. Names like Thiele, Throne-Holst, Nuzzi, Schneiderman and LaValle seemed to be locks on re-elections. So when popular Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming decided to take on Ken LaValle, many heads turned and said, why?
Ms. Fleming has shown the ability to raise money and connect with voters, due to the efforts of a revitalized Southampton Democratic Party lead by Gordon Herr, Grania Brolin but perhaps rebuilt by the local political genius of Michael Anthony. Phone banks, registration drives, and local appearances have served Ms. Fleming well in what so many considered an uphill battle from the start.
But Bridget Fleming seems to enjoy the good fight for the right reasons. An Obama operative from 2008, the University of Virginia Law School graduate seems to embrace a spirit of tackling impossible tasks and defeating Ken LaValle. However, defeating LaValle just may be that, impossible.
With almost twice as much money in hand, and a seasoned local well oiled ground game in place for more than 30 years, Mr. LaValle has quiet strength. No bells or whistles just a proven track record of getting large numbers of voters to the poles on election day.
He has delivered many dollars and programs to the East End. The Community Preservation Fund, a program both Fred Thiele and Ken LaValle help establish up in Albany has raised over $700 million since it was signed into law in 1999 to purchase open lands in Suffolk County. Mr. LaValle has always been active watching out for the East End. Yet Bridget Fleming wants to replace LaValle because she believes she is poised to represent a new generation of East Enders in Albany. I believe this election cycle across the nation with be a game changer for the next 10 years. The fierce tenor of the pitch of political battle is almost harmful to sensitive political ears, but the prize is the future of our, towns, counties, states, and the nation.
John F. Kennedy once said, “Politics is the only game for adults.” This election cycle the adults are really going at it.