Is it time for Tyner, as congressional hopeful Joel Tyner of Rhinebeck so fervently hopes? Not yet, if history is a teacher. It took Tyner five elections before he won a seat in the Dutchess legislature. If it takes five tries to get to Congress, he’ll be around 98, but no doubt feisty as ever.
Tyner is not exactly a household name in these parts, but then neither is the presumed favorite in next month’s Democratic primary for Congress, low-profile Julian Schreibman. Schreibman was Ulster County Democratic chairman for a couple of years, ending in January when he announced his candidacy, but in terms of name recognition is hardly on a par with Demo icons Maurice, Mike and Kevin. (Icons don’t need last names.)
By any fair assessment, other than Tyner’s, Schreibman has to be considered the favorite. A Yale-educated former prosecutor, Schreibman displayed fund-raising ability after generating over $200,000 in contributions (half from his own pocket) over the winter, while Tyner says he raised something like $15,000. Were Tyner running for re-election for county legislator from a semi-rural district in Northern Dutchess, 15 large would be impressive. But this ain’t Kansas, Toto.
Tyner’s call for a series of debates in each of the 11 counties in the new congressional district has fallen on deaf ears. Conventional wisdom suggests frontrunners do not provide forums for longshots.
Schreibman needs to be careful. In effect, Democrats have a choice between two unknowns for an open seat. Turnout under those conditions will probably range between abysmal and low. With only a handful of Democrats at the polls come June 26, either candidate could win.
Tyner, far savvier than some of his rambling rants might suggest, appreciates the opportunity. If there is a viable Tyner strategy, other than begging for free press all the time, it’s hooking his wagon to the anti-fracking movement. Say what you may about Tyner, a self-proclaimed 99 percenter, he knows enough to push a hot-button issue when he sees one. And nothing is hotter these days than the controversy over hydraulic fracking for natural gas.
Anti-frackers are pretty well organized. Last month, more than 300 turned out to shake their fists at officialdom at a public hearing by the Ulster County legislature. There are pockets of dissent all over the Catskills. And it is at least even money that a majority of these anti-frackers are voting Democrats.
Schreibman seems to be coming around to the realization that this relatively small, loudly vocal anti-establishment group could tip the balance. While his initial statements on fracking were, well, bland, much like the candidate, of late he’s gotten his Tyner on. For Schreibman the problem is Tyner got there first.
If Tyner can recruit this highly motivated constituency, what is perceived by some as a looming gap could shrink considerably over the next month or so.
If Schreibman is acting as though his opponent doesn’t exist, state Senate hopeful George Amedore is running like he’s practically elected.