Tuesday, January 03, 2006

More NY Republican Disarray in 20th District

Once dubbed a "rising star" of the New York Republican Party Rep. John Sweeney finds himself under pressure from all sides.

Saratoga County Republican Committee Chair Jasper Nolan thinks there is foul play afoot from the Pataki camp with Rep. John Sweeney (NY-20) the target. Nolan has called upon State Party Chairman Steve Minarik to fire consultant Patrick McCarthy.

McCarthy was seen recently at a downtown Albany establishment with Democratic lawyer Doug Rutnik and his daughter Kirsten Gillibrand. Gillibrand is challenging Sweeney for his House seat this year. Rutnik has long been romantically linked with Zenia Mucha, a former advisor to Pataki and longtime associate of McCarthy's.

McCarthy, longtime political ally of Governor Pataki, is a former state party Executive Director and also served as deputy secretary for Appointments and Government Affairs, a position in which he acted as Pataki's chief dispenser of patronage. He says that he and the Rutnik are old friends and the get-together was strictly personal and not political.

John Sweeney has made a career of ingratiating himself to Republican stars such as George Pataki and William Powers in New York and President George W. Bush and the indicted former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, whose own problems multiplied today with the plea bargain of longtime associate Jack Abramoff. Sweeney was long expected to run for Governor of New York this year but was unable to get a campaign started... a problem he blames on Pataki's waiting too long before announcing he wouldn't run for re-election.

According to the New York Post's Fred Dicker:
Sweeney, a Saratoga County resident and close political ally of Mayor Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has told friends he believes that Pataki himself approved of McCarthy's alleged efforts to help his Democratic opponent, Kirsten Gillibrand.


Interestingly, Jasper Nolan just recently staved off a challenge to his own leadership post from Clifton Park town chair Michael Lisuzzo. Lisuzzo had been critical of Nolan's leadership after the resounding defeat in local elections in the former Republican bastion of Saratoga Springs. Sweeney brokered a peace treaty between the two rightly calculating that the last thing he needed was an in-house feud in a county that is a must win for him in his battle with Gillibrand. Sweeney has called Lisuzzo "a rising star" "At a time when the state Republican Party is looking for new blood.

To make matters worse for Sweeney, himself a former state party executive director, rumors of a potential primary challenge from Sandy Treadwell, a resident of Essex County in the northern reaches of the 20th district, have resurfaced of late. Sweeney, who has been very critical of Pataki's leadership, was also critical of Treadwell's leadership during his tenure as the previous state party chairman. Sweeney is rumored to have been instrumental in Treadwell's ouster. Rumors of Treadwell returning the favor immediately surfaced.

Gillibrand is expected to give Sweeney the toughest challenge he has faced for his seat. A former Special Counsel to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Andrew Cuomo in the Clinton administration and experienced fund raiser, she had already raised by third quarter reporting almost as much as Sweeney's three previous challengers combined. Fourth quarter numbers are expected soon and Gillibrand already has first quarter events with Sen. Hillary Clinton scheduled. A supposedly safe seat and promising career for Sweeney is looking increasingly vulnerable and at risk for a short end.

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