Tag Archives: Ronald S. Lauder

A Perfect Political Storm Is Brewing In New York

Bookmark and Share    A perfect storm is a unique combination of circumstances that allow two or more weather fronts to meet and mix with a moisture rich air mass. The perfect timing and combination often produce storms of unprecedented power and devastation. Although the term is often reserved for meteorological references, it can also be applied to events unrelated to weather. For instance, the recent events that allowed a Republican to be elected to the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts is a prime example of a metaphorical use of the phrase “perfect storm”. A unique set of circumstances that brought voter dissatisfaction, and a perceived liberal arrogance together with a good Republican candidate and a bad Democrat candidate, made for a perfect storm that emaciated the filibuster-proof majority that Democrats held over the nation.

That same type of perfect storm is brewing in the political atmosphere of New York State. It takes a vulnerable liberal incumbent, an aggressive former Tennessee Congressman and a former Republican Congresswoman and puts them together to create a scenario that, if all the timing is right, could make for a scenario that recreates in New York, the same type of political Nor’ Easter that we saw in Massachusetts.

After being picked to fill Hillary Clinton’s vacated senate seat by New York’s unpopular Governor David Paterson, Kirsten Gillibrand is seen as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the U.S. Senate. Ironically her vulnerabilities are more exposed among fellow Democrats than  it is with the loyal Republican opposition.

Initially, Gillibrand is most vulnerable to fellow Democrats who want to be the next U.S. Senator from New York.

Gillibrand remains largely unknown as a Senator. So far she has failed to become the champion of any issue and being picked by an unpopular Governor is not helping her. That is why everyone who is anyone looked at challenging her for the Democrat nomination.

Congressman Steve Israel was looking at launching his candidacy. So were several other state figures. But at the behest of President Obama, they all bowed out. The White House does not want to lose what is currently  a safe seat because of a bloody primary battle. This was especially the case when it looked like the most popular Republican in the state, Rudy Giuliani might be the G.O.P. nominee against Gillibrand. But Giuliani declined to run, again. That essentially left the road to winning the general election clear for Gillibrand……..so long as she was not dragged through the mud in a primary.

The White House did a good job at discouraging competition. Most New York Democrats heeded the President’s  advice and dropped any challenge to Kirsten Gillibrand. All except for one……former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford.

Ford is actually using his disobedience with the White House to his advantage. After getting much attention regarding his possible challenge to Senator Gillibrand, President Obama went very public in trying to deter Ford from actually running. But as Ford embarks on his” listening tour” of the state, he is taking that very public presidential demand and telling people that he will be an independent leader who will not take orders from anyone, including his fellow Democrat, President Obama.

Ford has billed his listening tour as a tool to help him to decide on whether or not he will run. But while shaking hands at a diner in Tappan, New York, he introduced himself by saying “I’m Harold Ford and I’m running for the U.S. Senate”. This Freudian slip was repeated quite a few times and each time, after he let the cat out of the bag, he quickly corrected himself and stated, “I’m thinking about running for the U.S. Senate”.

So it looks like Ford is actually going for it. He is just going through the motions at the moment and using the suspense to get a great deal of free publicity and exposure.

I did not think Ford would actually go through with a primary challenge to Gillibrand. Despite her low name I.D. and less than stellar approval ratings, Gillibrand’s negative ratings are among the lowest of any Democrat in the state and in just one year’s time, she has built quite a large war chest. With over $7 million raised since last February, she has raised more than any other senators with the exceptoion  of Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid and her New York colleague, the state’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer.

Given her support from the President along with her potential for getting her numbers up and her hefty fundraising abilities, I did not think Harold Ford would go for it. Especially given the fact that he will be labeled as a carpetbagger.

But Ford is extraordinarily power hungry. That is why he is no longer a Congressman from Tennessee. He gave that seat up when he chose to try to move up the political ladder by running for the U.S. Senate in that state.        He lost.

The decision to run for that senate seat came shortly after Ford tried to became the Democrat leader of the House of Representatives.

He ran against Nancy Pelosi.         He lost that too.

So now, with his Tennessee political fortunes exhausted, he moved to New York where he became a consultant for Merrill Lynch. That Wall Street name will be something that won’t help him if he does run. But I believe Harold understands that he could overcome that negative by going with the anti-incumbency sentiments and existing anger with the establishment. President Obama’s public attempt to discourage Harold Ford from running simply adds to this strategy. That is why Ford just might be able to get a lot of traction by claiming that he will not take orders from anyone.

If President Obama’s approval ratings continue to drop, and fails to even inspire Democrats, as was the case in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia, Ford’s opposing the President’s wishes will be to his advantage.

It is a gamble, but Harold Ford, Jr. is banking on distancing himself from President Obama and while he makes a run  from the President and to the left of the political spectrum, he will hype up the fact that Kirsten Gillibrand is the President’s senator but he will be the people’s senator. The scenario is interesting and very plausible. But essential to it working will be Ford’s fundraising ability.

Winning the Democrat nomination for statewide office in New York is currently viewed as the real fight, because with Rudy out, there is little chance of a Republican winning. Unless of course the Democrat primary between Ford and Gillibrand leaves the winner bloody. If that happens, whether the nominee be Gillibrand or Ford, one Republican might be able to turn things around.

Former Governor George Pataki is considering a run. Against Gillibrand, he could possibly pull it off, but if his opponent were to be the independent minded Harold Ford,  Pataki’s chances are diminished greatly. But Pataki is not the potential game changer. That person is former Congresswoman Susan Molinari.

Susan is the daughter of long serving, popular, former Republican New York Congressman Guy Molinari. When Guy did not get a position in President George H. W. Bush’s administration, he retired from Congress. Back then President Bush told Guy that he could not afford losing him in the House. Leaving was Guy’s way of saying “screw you”. So off he went. Guy then went on to become Borough President of Staten Island, the most Republican of New York City’s five counties. Replacing Guy in Congress was his daughter, City Councilwoman Susan Molinari.

For the longest time, Susan was the only Republican in the New York City Council and as such was already fairly well known. But after serving in Congress she soon became a darling of the Party.

Moderate in her politics, Susan played up her pro-choice stance with liberals and women while simultaneously playing up her defense and fiscal policies with conservatives. Both had an appreciation of her. But in 1997 after marrying Buffalo, New York’s former Congressman, Bill Paxon, Susan decided not to run for a urth term in Congress.

Now she is thinking about coming out of retirement.

Her father has said that after no star candidate emerged to challenge Gillibrand, “All of a sudden I think, the best candidate in the entire country is my daughter”.

I know Susan, and I can tell you right now that she is not “the best candidate in the entire country”, but she could be one of the best positioned Republican candidates in New York to take a U.S. Senate seat away from Democrats.

If a bloody Gillibrand is the inevitable nominee, Susan will help to split the women’s vote, especially suburban soccer Moms. If Ford is the badly bruised winner of the primary, he will have severely depleted his campaign war chest and he will have also gone through a campaign that will surely have labeled him an outsider. Put up against native New Yorker, Susan Molinari, who can easily raise a substantial campaign fund, Tennessee Ford will find himself having a tough time beating her. Molinari will, again, get a substantial number of votes from women, she will hold down Democrat numbers coming out of New York City and she will be able to go toe to toe with Ford on who is more independent. In addition to all that, Harry will also have a tough time reconciling the more liberal  Harold Ford of New York’s 2010  senate race, with the more conservative Harold Ford who ran in 2006 for the U.S. Senate from Tennessee.  Many of his positions hav changed.  Gay marriage is just one example.  Among the more conservative Tennessee electorate, Harry was opposed to same sex marriage.  Now, among more liberal New Yorkers, he is for same sex marriage.  Which Ford would New Yorkers really be getting? 

Kirsten Gillibrand will have all this amunition too but here’s where another part of this perfect storm comes into play.

Governor Paterson is African-American.  He is going to be challenged for the gubernatorial  nomination by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, an Itsalian-American.  This situation is going to have an effect on a Gillibrand-Ford race. 

Paterson is currently expected to lose to Cuomo, but one thing is for sure. Race will play a role and  African-American New Yorker’s will be coming out for Governor Paterson.   

While at the polls,  a great many of them are likely to cast their senate primary vote for Harold Ford, Jr., who is also African-American.  So no matter how much Gillibrand may attack Ford for flip-flopping, Ford can count on attratcing many black voters away from Gillibrand.

 As a Republican, I for one do hope that Ford runs. By making a strong bid for the Democrat nomination, he will do much more good for the G.O.P. than he will for Democrats and if he wins that nomination, he will make it pretty easy for Susan Molinari to walk right up the middle and into the senate chambers of Washington, D.C..

Now all Republicans have to do is make sure that Susan Molinari becomes their nominee. If she does, New York might pull off a Massachusetts-like surprise that will add to the already substantial gains in Congress that Republicans are heading towards. But one without the other will not work. If Republicans don’t properly seed the storm clouds, their electoral drought will be long lasting.

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Who Can Win a U.S. Senate Seat For Republicans In New York?

Bookmark and Share    In 2010, along with a race for Governor, New York will be electing two United States Senators.  Chuck Schumer’s term is up and a special election to fill the remainder of Hillary Clinton’s unexpired term will also be held. Currently Ronald Lauder For Senatethe seat is occupied by Kristen Gillibrand, an Upstate Congresswoman who Governor David Paterson appointed to fill the seat until the 2010 special election is held. Unless a very possible primary challenge to Gillibrand materializes, she should be the Democrat nominee for the seat.

As for Chuck Schumer, he will certainly be renominated by state Democrats, even if he is challenged for the nomination. Any opposition to Schumer in a Democrat primary will be token at most.

Less definite right now though, are the strong candidacies of any two viable Republican nominees to run against either Schumer or Gillibrand. Former Governor George Pataki is considering running for one seat and the state’s other most prominent Republican, Rudy Giuliani is mulling over a run for Governor. So at the moment, both Republican U.S. Senate nominations have no viable, declared candidates as of yet. And even if George Pataki does decide to take the plunge and run, that still leaves the other nomination open.

Although there are many good New York Republicans that could make great United States Senators, none other than Rudy and Pataki,really have the name ID and financial resources to make a truly competitive run for it. People like Republican Senate Leader Dean Skelos is one person certainly good enough for the job . Long Island Congressman Peter King is another name but after citing his own inability to raise the kind of money needed to be successful, he recently announced that he will not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

There are several other names with the ability but a lack of either name ID or campaign financing abilities or both. So what are New York Republicans to do?

I think the state G.O.P. should recruit a man who could just make things interesting. Very interesting. He has campaign experience, conservative credentials and deep pockets. His name is Ronald Lauder.

Ron Lauder is the son of Estee Lauder, the founder and creator of famed Estee Lauder Cosmetics. Initially schooled in the U.S., he attended the Bronx High School of Science and went on to graduate from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he earned a Bachelors degree in International Businesss. Soon after, he took up study at the University of Paris and the University of Brussels where he received a Certificate in International Business.

Lauder began working in and on the family business in 1964 but by 1984, studies, interests and eventually experience in other areas propelled him to a position in The Pentagon as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO policy.

In 1986 he became the U.S. Ambassador to Austria and in 1989 Ron Lauder ran for the Republican nomination for Mayor of New York City. In a city which is overwhelmingly democratic, that nomination usually isn’t a hard fought one to get but in 1989 a young prosecutor by the name of Rudy Giuliani was also running.

Rudy was well known but his policies were not and with Ron Lauder in the race, Rudy was forced to make his positions clear and earn every vote from  New York Republicans  for the right to run as their nominee. Ultimately Giuliani won but in that race, Ron Lauder introduced many innovative policy alternatives for New York City.

Since then, Ronald has continued with his civic minded service to New York. He became Chairman of New Yorkers for Term Limits and in 1993 he led the successful term limits referendum campaign in New York City, which at the time was one of the most significant achievements in the national term limits movement. In 1994, Ronald waged successful term limits campaigns in 11 other towns across the New York State. And in 1996, he again won at the ballot box, successfully turning back an effort by incumbent politicians to repeal New York City’s term limits law.

Beyond his civic political activities, Lauder is a patron of the arts and a leading figure in the recovery of lost art from the Nazi period. This mission stems from Lauder’s deep commitment to his heritage. It is a commitment that has earned him leadership in several national and international Jewish organizations, including his election to President of the World Jewish Congress, a position he won by a large margin in a race against several other leading world figures.  As WJC President, he has met with a number of heads of state and governments, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Pope Benedict XVI, the President of Italy, and the leaders of Hungary, Austria and Switzerland.

In addition to his commitment to Jewish causes Lauder has an innovative network of business enterprises in a mosaic of philanthropic and professional endeavors that reaches around the world and through it, he is dedicated to long-term, free market investment in Eastern Europe and former Soviet countries as they continue to emerge from communism.

In truth, there is a great deal more that is worthy of mention when it comes to Ron Lauder’s achievements and humanitarian efforts. Too much to actually detail here in full. But suffice it to say, from the establishment of a foundation that makes student exchange programs possible, to the construction of educational institutions, and everything else already mentioned, Ron Lauder has a record that surpasses the accomplishments of either Chuck Schumer or Kirsten Gillibrand. It is also a record that is likely to be unsurpassed by many other potential Republican candidates for senate.

If the New York G.O.P. really wants to make a run for at least one of the two senate seats up for grabs in 2010, if they can get Ronald Lauder, they could have a shot.  With Lauder they’ll have a candidate that has established relationships with world leaders, experience in foreign affairs and defense policy,  campaign experience, strong conservative credentials, and a  knowledge of and appreciation for free markets. He also has a heart of gold and pockets lined with gold too.  It should also be noted that as a leading Jewish figure, Ron Lauder could make significant inroads with the Jewish community which is a substantial core constituency of the New York Democratic Party.  But beyond his appeal to constituencies that normally vote Democrat, Lauder is one of the few Republicans who would not have a  problem raising the money for a competitive race and his wealth of experience and resume would make him one of the most knowledgeable and formidable candidates that Republicans could run for senate in any state.

Given all that, I can also tell you this. Ronald Lauder is tenacious but compassionate. He is sensible and studious and he is not a man who can be bought. He has no reason to sell out on any issue and he doesn’t need to make a name for himself.

I know.

Ron Lauder’s run for Mayor back in 1989 was the very first campaign I was hired to work on and having worked with Mr. Lauder I got to appreciate him both as a candidate and a New Yorker.

Running against Rudy was a tough first time race to be in but Ron Lauder proved to me then, that a man who stands up for his principles never loses. In that race, Rudy may have won the nomination, but Ron Lauder won a special place in my heart and earned my respect . New York Republicans would be wise to get Ron Lauder to carry their banner and New York State would be lucky to have him represent them in the United States Senate.

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