Summer is winding down and a lying, immoral, authoritarian con-man remains in the White House so it’s easy to focus on the critical 2020 election and forget that we have a local election quickly approaching this November that includes several important offices in Dutchess County. Of no greater importance is the race for Dutchess County Executive, a position currently held by Republican Marc Molinaro.
Molinaro has a long and well-known political history in Dutchess County. At the age of 19 he became the youngest mayor in America in the town of Tivoli, and went on to serve in the Dutchess County Legislature, the New York Assembly, and then as County Executive. Molinaro ran for Governor of New York in 2016, in part to drive up Republican turnout in an attempt to help John Faso beat Antonio Delgado for Congress, which failed, just like his gubernatorial campaign. But Molinaro sells himself as a moderate and is often described as popular in the county.
He’s running against Democrat Joe Ruggiero, a life-long resident of Dutchess County and until recently the executive director of the New York State Bridge Authority. Ruggiero will face an uphill battle, but his candidacy is worth fighting for. Republicans have become the party of Trump, and this horrifying fact motivates Democrats and many Independent voters to do anything they can to resist the corrupt, racist regime of Don The Con, as well as his political enablers. So Ruggiero couldn’t be running in a more favorable political environment.
But beyond the political environment, it’s important to understand that Molinaro is not a moderate and holds many positions that should outrage a majority of voters in our area. We know from polling that a handful of issues currently top the list of concerns in the United States, and Molinaro is wrong on most of them:
Guns. In the wake of weekly mass shootings, a large majority of Americans are fed up with Republican views and inaction on a wide array of common sense gun control proposals. We learned yesterday that the Odessa, Texas shooter failed a background check but then bought an assault rifle in a private sale exempted by lax gun laws. “Moscow” Mitch McConnell still refuses to bring a House Gun Control bill to the Senate floor despite deadly mass shootings happening with regularity. Marc Molinaro received an “A” rating from the NRA’s PAC when he ran for governor and over the years has refused to support many common sense gun reforms, including preventing domestic abusers from possessing guns, banning 50-caliber weapons and criminalizing the possession of armor piercing ammo. Let’s be clear–anyone who tolerates 50 caliber weapons in our society doesn’t deserve to be in public office. On guns, Molinaro is out of step with America and wrong for Dutchess County.
Women’s Health. Molinaro personally opposes abortion but says he “respects the law of the land,” which is Republican-speak for “I’m praying the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade so I don’t have to keep lying about my position.” He also gave money to a pro-life pregnancy center, and even voted against a bill in the Assembly that would have allowed pregnant female inmates to be unshackled while giving birth. Molinaro also opposes universal health care, which hurts women who are disproportionately under- or un-insured relative to men. On women’s health, Molinaro is wrong for Dutchess County.
Equality. Molinaro voted against same-sex equality and voted against same-sex couples being allowed to adopt. He has since said his thinking has “evolved” but it’s unclear what he would actually support, and since the only thing of substance we have to go on is his record as a legislator, it’s easy to conclude that on equality, Molinaro is wrong for Dutchess County.
Taxes. Molinaro claimed to be against the SALT tax cap in the Trump/GOP tax scam that passed in 2017, which is good, but he wanted to lower the state “millionaire” tax on the rich from 8.82% to 6.85%, further increasing economic inequality. He also wanted to eliminate the estate tax so wealth could be captured and passed down through the generations even though heirs did little-to-nothing to earn their inherited wealth. We’re not talking about family farms, only a tiny fraction of which ever owe money in estate taxes. We’re talking about families like the Trumps. On tax policy, Molinaro is wrong for Dutchess County.
Molinaro may not have been a disaster for Dutchess County thus far, but we can do a lot better. We deserve an Executive who will oppose the NRA and support common-sense laws like universal background checks and a ban on assault rifles. We deserve an Executive who wants health-care for all and is willing to find a solution to our health insurance crisis. We deserve an Executive who will clearly and unambiguously fight for women’s health and for women’s sovereignty over their own bodies. And we deserve an Executive who doesn’t help the rich get richer while everyone else gets left behind.
Please start to focus on this local election and see if you can get involved in turning out voters. It will likely be a light turnout so anything can happen.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office” along with Molinaro.