I want to start this week by telling you a secret.
Several years ago, my cell phone rang and a number appeared that I did not know. I don’t pick up calls like that, so it went to voice mail. It was then I realized it was a high placed person in politics in the Capital Region.
When politicians call someone in the media it’s usually because they need coverage on something or want to leak something that benefits them. Strangely, this call was about me. The person started by asking if I was a member of any political party because “they” couldn’t find any info on me and they assumed I might be a republican.
I laughed and said, “First up I’m a journalist, so I’m not a part of any party, I need to stay neutral.” I went on to explain that as far as me being a republican, I shared all my liberal views on social issues, some of them items that would probably get me kicked out of the club. That said, because I’m Irish Catholic, there are conservative things about me too.
I, like most of you reading this, am a rich stew of complexity and contradictions. But getting back to the call.
I asked why this person cared which way I leaned, and they told me they were shopping for a candidate to run for state legislature. They had a few ideas and someone at a meeting dropped my name. Everyone assumes because you are on TV and have strong name recognition people might vote for you. Not true. If I had five bucks for every TV anchor who ran for congress and lost, I could take a trip to Disney.
Without naming names, I’ve worked alongside two of them over the years. In fact, Kari Lake who used to anchor the news at Channel 13 with Ed Dague, twenty-some years ago, is currently running for governor of Arizona.
I told this voice on the phone that I’m a journalist and writer because I love being a journalist and writer. I explained that when I got into this business in 1985, I took any job, any shift, for any meager pay, just to get my foot in the door. After 37 yeas of climbing a very long and at times crooked ladder, it made zero sense to change careers now and stop doing something I loved.
I also told this voice that I’d make a terrible candidate for their party because I couldn’t be counted on to vote for anything the party might want. I told them I’d look at each issue or bill on its own merits and then make a decision. Politics doesn’t work that way. The party that backs you and helps get you elected needs to know you’ll vote the way they tell you to vote down the road. Put simply, I’m too much of a troublemaker and a flake to count on that way.
The person smiled and agreed and my bright future in politics started and ended faster than you can say “hanging chad.”
The seat that this person floated out to me for a possible run is the current seat held by state senator Daphne Jordan. The same seat she is now going to lose because a fellow republican and person she thought was her friend is taking it from her. I know politics is a hardball business, but you must feel bad for Daphne Jordan. I don’t know the woman personally; I can honestly say we’ve never spoken or met even once.
That said, I have to believe she got a phone call like the one I received a few years back and was convinced to upend her life and run for this seat. I’m sure she was sold on “loyalty to the party” and “stamping out one-party rule” and all those other catchphrases that make your heart swell as a potential candidate.
So, she ran and won, at I’m guessing, great expense, both financially and that of her time with her family. And what is the thanks for her sacrifice? The district lines get redrawn, republican Jim Tedisco doesn’t savor the challenge of going up against a very popular democrat Neil Breslin in the new 46th (where Tedisco lives), so Jim jumps districts and pushes Daphne out. Is that even fair?
What this means, if you’re keeping score, is Tedisco abandons ship and likely gives the democrats another seat in the senate. It also means he’ll have to eventually move to a new address in the 44th. I don’t’ really understand it.
If you can trust Wikipedia, Jim turns 72 in a few weeks. I can’t imagine uprooting my home and life at that age over a political seat in a state where one party rules and you have very little power anyway.
I do know Jim Tedisco and like him very much and he may want to whack me one over the head for this column, but I just don’t get it. Were it me, I’d have let Daphne keep her spot. The phrase “fair is fair” is the only thing that comes to mind. Then again, I’m not a politician.
John Gray is a news anchor on WXXA-Fox TV 23 and ABC’S WTEN News Channel 10. His column is published every Sunday. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.