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County Democratic Party Sees Rapid Ascent Halted

Written By Editor on 10/13/13 | 10/13/13

The Democratic Party of Schoharie County seemed to be relegated to minority status forever. It faced large losses in enrolled voters and elected officials in the mid-2000s. Through a shift in electoral strategy it saw a large boom several years ago culminating in several major victories. Now, the party appears to be headed the other way.

Looking at the United States in 2008, you see a broad revival of the Democratic Party nationally. While the party saw gains in this County the GOP still controlled the County Board and all elected officials. A more aggressive strategy would be necessary to change fortunes.

The Democrats received some assistance from an overlap with the Conservative Party. Some Democratic-leaning voters and officials were willing to vote along New York State's multiple-party balloting-- allowing a candidate to run under several different parties at once.

The Democrats made a major push in 2009. They convinced Sharon Supervisor Tony Desmond to shed the Republican Party and re-register as an independent. Desmond was then nominated by the Democrats and the Conservative Party. His dual lines gave him the advantage over Bill Slater-- and gave him his narrow victory.

The effort was tried again in 2011. The Democratic Party nominated another Republican-turned-independent for a County office but this time with disastrous effects. Former Middleburgh Mayor Gary Hayes gained the Democratic line for County Clerk only to lose to Indy Jaycox 64-36%.

However, on the County Board level, 2011 was a watershed year. The Supervisors of Sharon, Middleburgh, and Schoharie all went to the Democrats-- giving them (on paper) the first majority in the chamber since the 1990s. However, legislative infighting has complicated the situation and has resulted in a fractured Board. Whether the Democrats can regain the majority after this year's election is not clear.

However, part of the Democrats' gambit is failing. The party looked for candidates for District Attorney and failed. Sheriff Tony Desmond withdrew his support of the Democratic Party and re-registered as a Republican and was nominated by that party over the summer. The de facto Democratic-Conservative alliance is largely dead, with former Desmond supporter Todd Ethington gaining the Conservative line for Sheriff.

The Democrats certainly have a chance this fall but much of their success of 2009-2011 has faded.
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