Voters in New York’s 9th State Senate district did something last week that the governor and the State Legislature have failed to do this legislative session: They stood up for the fight against corruption and the push for ethics reform by electing Democratic Assembly member Todd Kaminsky. His victory over Republican Chris McGrath for the vacant Senate seat held for 31 years by Dean Skelos, who was forced from office because of his conviction on corruption charges, showed the power of the voters’ interest in reform.
Kaminsky ran on a platform of fixing Albany by fighting corruption and limiting the impact money increasingly has on our state’s policy decision-making process. McGrath touted his lifelong connections to the district and his admirable service to many aspects of the community he sought to represent.
A look at the their respective websites offered a sharp contrast. Kaminsky’s wasn’t just about his work as a former federal prosecutor who sent several state lawmakers to jail, but also about his pledge to fight corruption in our state Capitol and an articulation of his ethics-reform proposals. McGrath’s campaign website, strangely, didn’t focus on any issues, reinforcing the perception that his campaign was about who he is and what he had accomplished for the community.
Kaminsky won, in part, because he tapped into voters’ anger at Skelos’s betrayal of their trust in him, the rampant corruption in Albany and his pledge to do something about it. McGrath was largely silent on the issue of corruption other than to defend the status quo, arguing that current ethics laws are working because the bad guys are getting caught and put in jail. What he failed to realize is that voters don’t just want to prosecute corrupt lawmakers. They also want to prevent corruption from taking place.