A full page ad appears in the current issue of The Nation promoting the Democratic primary campaign of insurgent candidate Randy Credico against Senator Chuck Schumer. In one respect, the ad has done its job, because I hadn't been aware of Credico's challenge before. He appears to be challenging Schumer from the left, reminding Nation readers that the incumbent "supports the Patriot Act, and wants to make its most repressive elements permanent," "wants to send more troops" to Iraq and Afghanistan, and seeks to perpetuate the "racist War on Drugs." Schumer, Credico charges, is an unapologetic advocate of the Wall Street bailouts, "a zealous proponent of the death penalty," and a promoter of a "National ID card that would subject citizens to racial profiling and intrusive 'stop and frisk' searches at whim." Credico also accuses his opponent of "sponsoring a new federal law that would make it almost impossible for poor people to get cell phones."
Credico is a "professional comedian [whose] candidacy is no joke." His ad invokes Al Franken's career as a precedent for his own prospects. To date, he claims to have financed his campaign entirely from his own bank account. The ads placed on his behalf in The Nation are the exceptions (there have been two so far). They've been paid for by the Alliance for Community Elections, an organization which appears to have been engaged heretofore mostly in battling for control over progressive radio station WBAI. The object of the full-page ads is to solicit online signatures for Credico's ballot petition and donations ("a modest sum" is recommended) to his campaign fund. The fund, the ad says, will be spent on collecting and notarizing signatures for the ballot petition.
The New York Daily News reports that Credico has already turned in what he claims is a sufficiency of petitions, while election officials claim that he's only turned in a "few pages" of signatures when he needs 15,000. Credico has accused the officials of favoritism toward Schumer. Moreover, he has threatened to bolt the party if he's denied a spot on the primary ballot. Interestingly, he has not threatened to form his own party, but to throw such support as he has behind Carl Paladino, the rabidly reactionary candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. It's possible, of course, that Credico was only exercising his comedic license.
I wonder whether the Alliance for Community Elections and their friend Randy Credico have spent their money to date in the wisest fashion. Credico wants to run for a statewide election in New York. It's very likely that a majority of Nation readers live outside New York State. Readers all over the country have the right, according to the current rules, to donate money to candidates in states not their own. But shouldn't it be Credico's top priority to get the attention of people who might vote for him than those who might donate? Perhaps he thinks that he has no chance of reaching the potential anti-Schumer progressive vote unless he gets money to advertise, which he must solicit from the widest possible audience. If so, that's a sad commentary on the state of American politics.
Credico's ad doesn't tell Nation readers that he has already been nominated to run against Schumer by two different parties: the Libertarians and the new Anti-Prohibition party. These commitments make his threat to support Paladino (who intends to form his own Taxpayers party if denied the Republican nomination) all the more odd. But his reticence in his ad probably isn't surprising, since many if not most Nation readers are the sort who would not forgive a Democrat for even threatening to disrupt the American Bipolarchy. If his campaign isn't just some stunt -- the ad's description of it as "think Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on steroids" makes one wonder -- then Credico is another potentially independent politician who can't imagine victory without attempting quixotically to infiltrate or co-opt a major party. When he (or the ACE) writes that Credico wants the Democratic line "so voters can have a meaningful choice on election day," he implies that they wouldn't otherwise, even though Credico could still be on the ballot as a Libertarian. That comment is a kind of insult to those actual independents whose association with Credico his ad writer is unwilling to admit. If Credico is already a candidate, than his primary challenge to Schumer is a redundancy of effort, an exercise undertaken mainly, perhaps, for its further fundraising potential. It might be justified, however, if he told Nation readers the truth: if they don't like Schumer, and he still gets the nomination, they still have more choices -- including Randy Credico.