By Barrett Seaman
Just as one candidate, Rye’s Catherine Parker, drops out of the race for District 17’s congressional seat, there is a new entry in the contest—and one that candidate David Carlucci is not going to like.
The Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion (WCLA) Choice Matters, which has its roots in the fight leading up to Roe v. Wade nearly 50 years ago, has launched a campaign to highlight State Senator Carlucci’s seminal role in the creation of the Independent Democratic Coalition, the IDC, a group of eight elected Democrats in the State Senate who voted as a bloc with Republicans for eight years.
The lead entity in what has become a coalition of various pro-choice, progressive activists on both sides of the Hudson is ProChoice Voter. On Wednesday, the group launched a barrage of postcards—up to 15,000 to Rockland Democrats, 8,250 robocalls, with more to come, and live calls to as many of 14,785. While the impetus behind the campaign is Westchester-based and includes the Democratic Committees of Dobbs Ferry, Irvington and Tarrytown, it is aimed at Rockland voters, where most analysts see Carlucci’s strength. With the exception of a patch of Westchester around Ossining, the county constitutes Carlucci’s 38th New York State Senate district.
The messaging is an indictment of the candidate for “betraying Democratic principles” and “lying to his constituents about his role in the IDC”—specifically his role in blocking pro-choice, pro-feminist and other social justice initiatives like the Dream Act, the Climate and Community Protection Act, school funding, the Fair Pay Act and early voting. Because he abandoned Democrats in Albany, the group argues in its literature, “he cannot be trusted to fight for us in Congress.”
In its literature, ProChoice Voter does not endorse any of the remaining six candidates. The group’s backers no doubt have their personal preferences but are staying mum for the time being. “It’s our job to shave off a few thousand votes from Carlucci,” says Catherine Lederer-Plaskett, President of WCLA-Choice Matters. “It’s their job to sell themselves.”
The Carlucci conundrum for the others in this crowded race has always been his perceived dominance of Rockland. Though none of whatever private polling other campaigns have done has been made public, it is widely believed that they show not only his strength west of the Hudson but also a disconnect in voters’ minds between his congressional candidacy and his role in the IDC.
Even if this new entry into the fight succeeds in planting anti-Carlucci seeds, that leaves voters with six other choices, with little indication at this time which might break out of the pack in the next three weeks. Some party leaders, including the Democratic committees in Irvington and Greenburgh, are advising anyone who has not already voted my mail to hold off for a while to see if a new factor, like the anticipated New York Times endorsement, leads to a breakout. That and big questions about voter turnout, namely compliance with vote-by-mail rules and timing, leave this a very difficult election to predict.