Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the annual - I’m not sure what to call it, but one person described it as being similar to an animal gnawing off its leg - process of picking candidates for the Third Judicial District is that former Rep. John Sweeney is back in the game.
For weeks, if not months, Republicans in the seven-county district seemed settled on Guy Roemer, an Albany County attorney, and Columbia County Judge Jonathan Nichols for the two open seats. However, nothing is set in stone until delegates meet at the nominating convention, which the GOP will hold tomorrow (Thursday.)
Every indication, as of 7 p.m., is that Rensselaer County Family Court Judge Katherine “KiKi” Cholakis will get the Republican nod and Nichols gets kicked to the curb. I couldn’t get anyone to comment on the record, but I’m told one of the guys brokering the deal behind the scenes was none other than Sweeney.
Once the powers that be decided on Cholakis, either Roemer or Nichols had to go and since Albany County carries the most weighted vote they stuck with their own. Ulster and Rensselaer counties signed on and it was all over for Nichols, as of 7 p.m. Thursday anyway.
The way it works is the party nominates delegates to send to the judicial convention and they in turn nominate who the bosses want. For years, rather than run an expensive race that spans several counties to only yield two patronage jobs, the parties would cross endorse each other’s candidates on a rotating basis. That fell apart in 2008 when the Democrats, behind Rensselaer County Chairman Tom Wade, refused to endorse incumbent Judge Anthony Carpinello and Rensselaer County Judge Pat McGrath went onto defeat Carpinello in the general election.
The gnawing at the limbs thing happens annually, but Sweeney’ presence is what stands out this year. He was a rising star in the national GOP who once had the president’s ear until he lost his seat to now Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2006 because of what were self-inflicted wounds. The frat photos stand out, but the State Police domestic violence report probably did him in.
After a 17-day stint in jail for an April 5, 2009 DWI last year, Sweeney has said he has been proudly sober since April 6, 2009.
The fact he wants to get back in the political game isn’t really a surprise. The former state GOP executive director’s tactical prowess at the behind the scenes stuff is near legendary. Also, it’s not surprising he would get into this race. He and Cholakis were partners in a Troy law firm back in the 1990s.
Meanwhile, the Independence Party endorsed the two Democrats, long time North Greenbush Judge Ray Elliott and Albany County Court Judge Tom Breslin.
The GOP meets tomorrow (Thursday) at 1 p.m. and the Conservatives will meet at 6 p.m. to pick their candidates. While there was some grumblings the Conservatives may endorse Elliott or even Nichols in retaliation for the Cholakis nomination, the last word I heard was they were going with Roemer and Cholakis too.
But there is a ton of time between now and 1 p.m. so who knows what will happen. I’m pretty sure cell phone batteries are dying at a pretty good clip.
Labels: Breslin, cholakis, Elliott, nichols, Roemer, Sweeney