Why Molinaro Lost the Election He Was Supposed to Win
On Tuesday night many political prognosticators were shocked to learn that Marc Molinaro had lost his bid in a special election for the 19th District House seat.
Voters in the Hudson Valley who have been watching Molinaro over the past year shouldn't have been too surprised by the outcome. The locally adored politician has slowly transformed from a man for the people into a political mystery.
I have voted for Marc Molinaro in the past and really enjoyed spending time talking with him on our radio show. The Dutchess County Executive has always come across to me as someone who cares about others and relished serving the public. He'd happily answer any question and, even if I disagreed with the answer, I always felt good knowing he was speaking from the heart. Sadly, that all seemed to change as soon as he began setting his sights on national office.
Molinaro appears to have adopted the same political strategy as Aaron Burr in the musical Hamilton. In the play, Burr desperately wants to gain political power and be in "the room where it happens." His tactic is to stay neutral on pretty much every issue, explaining his plan by saying "don't let them know what you're against or what you're for." His desire to appease everyone eventually backfires when Hamilton refuses to support Burr over his political nemesis, Thomas Jefferson, saying "at least Jefferson has beliefs, Burr has none."
Sadly, that's the way many voters say they now feel about Molinaro. The County Executive has run his campaign for the 19th district by saying as little as possible about the issues voters desperately want answers on. Instead, Molinaro has based his campaign on issues everyone agrees on like being anti-crime and pro-economy (I don't know anyone who's pro-crime or anti-economy, do you?). He's also seized on some silly issues like fighting for whole and chocolate milk in schools while being completely silent on pivotal issues that someone running for congress should really answer.
We still don't know what Marc Molinaro thinks about a host of topics because he has refused to discuss any of them. Assault weapons, climate change, voting for marriage equality, expanding medicare, January 6, supporting Trump as a presidential candidate, reproductive rights and many other hot-button issues have gone completely unanswered. How can people vote for someone when they pull an Aaron Burr on almost every major issue?
Congress is going to be casting some monumental votes that will seriously affect every single American. Whoever is elected is going to have to make extremely tough decisions based on their beliefs. Unfortunately, Molinaro hasn't shared any of his beliefs on most of these pivotal issues. His miscalculation was that he assumed voters would be more interested in discussing the price of eggs instead of what women are allowed to do with their own eggs. That has proven to be a big misstep.
I hope Molinaro takes this loss as a message that he needs to return to being an open and honest politician that tells it like it is. If he doesn't, we'll all be left asking the same question Hamilton did; "If you stand for nothing, what will you fall for?"
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