New Day for the GOP; Asinine strategy of attacking sitting county executive costs Sparaco dearly
BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
The results are in for the much anticipated Clarkstown GOP Committee race and the clear victor is incumbent Chairman Bob Axelrod and his ally County Executive Ed Day. The vast majority of their recommended GOP Committee slate was elected, including surprising repudiations of longtime committee members such as Legislator Frank Sparaco, leader of the Axelrod opposition.
Sparaco and other Republicans including Chairman Vincent Reda were seeking to replace Axelrod by electing new committee-people that would be loyal to their contingent. Sparaco’s fortunes were likely harpooned when he chose to make the election a referendum on who was a better Republican, himself, or the popular newly elected County Executive Ed Day.
Sparaco first made negative insinuations against Day at a general meeting of the County Legislature and then attacked him directly in an interview with the Rockland County Times. Soon after, Day penned a letter to Republican leaders stating that Sparaco should be removed from the equation of Republican politics.
The Rockland County Times predicted in a front page August 14 article that Sparaco’s strategy was likely to backfire. The article stated, “Now that Day and Sparaco are publicly going after each other, [Day’s] direct involvement [in the election] is far more likely. Common sense would say that is not a good thing for Sparaco’s campaign. The only Republican in the party who potentially can mobilize more voters than Sparaco in a small primary election would logically be Day, a relatively popular, newly elected county executive.”
County Executive Day was able to mobilize an unusually high turnout for a GOP Committee election and Sparaco’s normal ability to turn out voters in sparsely attended elections was made to look miniscule by comparison.
Day’s support combined with effective propaganda efforts by the political organ the Rockland Voice.com proved to be a lethal combo for Sparaco. A multitude of Clarkstowners followed the website to get their daily dose of entertaining smears against Sparaco, many of which were fantastical and some of which were altogether inaccurate. The effective demonization of Sparaco helped fuel Axelrod and Day’s mobilization efforts.
With increased political clout it is likely the Day contingent will set their sights on further control of the County GOP Committee in the near future. The County Committee had failed to offer Day substantive support during his campaign, with many Republican insiders going so far as to favor Democratic candidate David Fried.
The inability of the GOP to gain Day the support of the Conservative and Independence Party lines led him to create a third party line “Preserve Rockland,” on which he received over 13 percent of the vote, far more than the Independence and Conservative lines would likely have garnered him.
In turn Day and supporters have formed “Preserve Hudson,” a line that encompasses several counties. Day’s son Chris Day is seeking Congress as a GOP candidate and also is running on Preserve Hudson.
Ironically, Day’s success may have not been possible if not for the lack of support he received from entrenched political machinery. If the county Republicans had offered Day more support, he may have never created Preserve Rockland. In turn, the election between he and David Fried would have been much closer.
If not for Sparaco calling Day out for a political fight in August, Day likely would have not had cause to get directly involved in the Clarkstown GOP Committee election. In that event, Day’s name and face would not be attached to the Clarkstown victory.
In the 21st Century it is often said that “haters make you famous.” In Day’s case, his haters in the political establishment have helped make him famous with the public. With the Day revolution in full effect it appears Rockland’s political future will be different from its past.