The coronation of Fred Akshar

There is allegedly a campaign underway to fill the New York State Senate seat left vacant by the conviction and resignation of Tom Libous. But to characterize what is happening as an election is to fail to appreciate the reality of the situation. No, this is a coronation. The Warren Anderson Baton of Pork and Corruption is being passed to a third generation handpicked by power brokers in Albany. To see how this is being done one need only follow the money.

Our local media have made much of the fact that the Fred Akshar campaign has out raised Fiala’s by 20:1. The facts are a bit more subtle. According to the New York State Board of Elections Akshar has a war chest of $429,548.49 compared to $164,881.13 for Barbara Fiala. Without question, Akshar has drawn far more in donations from corporations and PACs, $101,603.49 to $16,250.00, and individuals, $115,241 to $700, than has Fiala. But the real story is in the support of the Republican and Democratic Parties for their respective candidates. Akshar has received $208,200 from the Republican Party and in let-over funds from other Republican candidates. Fiala has received no funding whatsoever from the Democratic Party. In fact, 88% of her financing is left over from her previous campaign for County Executive. The message is clear: Fiala was asked by Governor Cuomo to run as a sacrificial lamb to give the illusion that this was really an election.

Now perhaps this is prudent on the part of Democrats in as much as Mr. Akshar will need to run again in 2016. It is hard to see how he will be able to raise yet another $115,000 in individual contributions in less than a year. However, he will be running as an incumbent which is always an advantage even though he will have had little chance to accomplish anything during the ten months he will have been in office. On the other hand, the Democratic Party has been singularly inept at fielding winning candidates in the Southern Tier. That Party’s candidates for County Executive and Binghamton City mayor were pathetic at best. Unless that changes, Mr. Akshar will follow in the tradition of becoming a millionaire while larding the state budget with goodies for his friends. Perhaps he will even inherit Libous’s lakefront house. Meanwhile, another nail is driven into the coffin of democracy in upstate NY.

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