Gay Republican Candidate Scores Big Endorsement
Pataki Endorses Stewart
Joe LoTemplio, Staff Writer, The Press-Republican, (Plattsburgh, NY), Front Page
(PLATTSBURGH, NY) – In a rarity for City of Plattsburgh politics, Gov. George Pataki came to town to endorse mayoral candidate Daniel Stewart.
Stewart, a Republican, is running against 10-year Democratic incumbent Clyde Rabideau.
"This is a statement that the governor wants to produce even more than the significant amount he already has for the city and North Country by working with me and our North Country leaders in Albany," Stewart said.
The governor attended a luncheon for Stewart at the Best Western Inn at Smithfield, which was attended by about 100 Republicans.
"I know that Dan Stewart has the right vision and the passion and commitment to lead Plattsburgh into the 21st century," Pataki said.
The governor said the state can pass all the laws it wants, but it's up to the local governments to do the actual work to make life better.
"It's at the local level that the police have to be allowed to do the job, and the police of Plattsburgh know that the person who will let them do the job to make Plattsburgh a safer city is Dan Stewart," Pataki said, in reference to the City Police union's endorsement of Stewart.
Pataki also said Stewart has sound ideas on improving recreation and tourism promotion.
"This is a historic city that did play a prominent role in the history of our great country, and Dan Stewart has both that forward-looking vision and that sense of community to lead Plattsburgh," the governor said.
"Dan Stewart is not just going to be the next mayor of Plattsburgh, he is going to be a great mayor of Plattsburgh."
Pataki sidestepped the question of whether his endorsement of Stewart had anything to do with the fact that Rabideau ran for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket last year.
"I've been endorsing and working for candidates all across the state ... and I'm hopeful that we will have a great working relationship with the mayor of Plattsburgh," he said.
"My obligation is to make every community better in any way I can, and that's what I'm going to do, and that's what I've always done."
Rabideau said he was not surprised by Pataki's visit.
"The governor has visited a lot in the past year, and if I had anything to do with it, all the better," Rabideau said.
"But I bear no ill will. We are all team players in the state."
Rabideau held his own news conference later in the day Wednesday, with three local businessmen who said they support the mayor's practices of helping small businesses.
Stewart said that, as a Republican mayor, he will be able to get more done for the city working with Republican State Sen. Ronald B. Stafford, Republican Assemblyman Chris Ortloff and Pataki, than Rabideau could as a Democrat.
"The cog in the wheel has got to be taken out in order to move forward, and that is what I plan on doing in this city," Stewart said.
While an endorsement from a sitting governor is considered to be a campaign plum, Stewart said it will be hard to gauge just how much it will make a difference in next week's vote.
"People will still have to make up their minds, but the meal on their plate in front of them has been enhanced by the governor's visit," he said.
One Democrat, former Assembly candidate Michael O'Connell, criticized the Republican support of Stewart, who is openly gay, saying he questioned whether it was sincere.
O'Connell, who said he may run for Assembly again next year, charged that Ortloff has voted against gay-rights legislation.
"As usual, he (Ortloff) is saying one thing and doing another," O'Connell said.
Stewart said he welcomes Ortloff's support.
"Chris Ortloff is the one who brought me into the Republican Party, and we have a right to disagree on some issues, but we are both man enough to put our differences aside for the betterment of our community," Stewart said.