POLITICAL ACTION

Most PEF-endorsed candidates survive tough election season


By SHERRY HALBROOK

PEF activists throughout the state worked hard through September, October and right up to November 2 building support for political candidates endorsed by the union.

Focusing most of their efforts on candidates in the tightest races, the PEF members and retirees called and visited union households to raise awareness of the election and provide information about the candidates and issues.

“We produced mailings in support of 30 candidates for Congress, and the state Senate and Assembly as well as for the five statewide candidates,” said PEF Director of Legislation and Counsel Brian Curran. “Many districts received two or more mailings, so we actually produced 58 separate pieces of mail. In total, about 152,000 pieces of mail were sent to PEF members.”

PEF President Ken Brynien also recorded phone messages encouraging PEF members to vote and support the endorsed candidates.

“We conducted robocalls with those messages for the five statewide candidates and for 33 candidates for Congress and the state Legislature,” Curran said.

“PEF organized volunteers to support 19 candidates through door-to-door canvassing, phoning or rallies,” Curran reported. “In some cases, we held multiple events for a single candidate. Volunteer participation numbers varied greatly by candidate and by region.”

Uphill climb
Some of the biggest efforts were made before the September 14 primaries. Region 10 members were out in August and early September supporting endorsed candidates in hard-fought primaries.

Region 11 members worked hard for the re-election of state Sen. Frank Padavan, Congressman Mike McMahon and state Assembly Member Janelle Hyer-Spencer.

Out on Long Island, Region 12 members tried to shore up support for incumbent state Sen. Brian Foley and Congressman Tim Bishop.

Ultimately, however, Padavan, McMahon, Hyer-Spencer and Foley were defeated. Bishop had a small lead on election night and is awaiting the results of a recount.

At the opposite end of the state, activists in PEF Regions 1 and 2 made determined but unsuccessful efforts on behalf of three newcomers, congressional candidate Matthew Zeller, and Assembly candidates Nancy Bargar and Brad Rybczynski.

Not every effort came up short. PEF Region 5 activists helped state Assembly Member Donna Lupardo keep her seat.

Region 3 members helped in Rochester to re-elect state Sen. Jim Alesi, and propel Harry Bronson into the state Assembly.

PEF Region 8 activists also saw success. Joining other labor volunteers on labor-walks and phoning in support of Congressman Scott Murphy, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, state senators Roy McDonald and Hugh Farley and Assembly member Bob Reilly.

While Murphy lost, DiNapoli, McDonald, Farley and Reilly all survived.
Region 8 volunteers had also made a successful all-out effort to support state Sen. Neil Breslin in a tough primary battle in Albany.

With the help of Region 9 members, Assembly candidate Frank Skartados came out neck-and-neck with his opponent on election night and is awaiting the results of a recount.

It matters
“It’s very disheartening for our volunteers to see so many of the candidates they worked hard to support go down to defeat,” said PEF Vice President Joe Fox. “Thankfully, most of them are seasoned activists who understand we must put our strongest efforts into the most difficult races.

“The important thing to recognize,” Fox added, “is we may have actually tipped the scale in favor of some of the candidates such as Reilly and maybe even DiNapoli. Every battle we fight, win or lose, makes us stronger and also more politically relevant.