Let Faso Run
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
Governor Pataki seems to be having a bit of trouble getting around to the endorsement of Governor Weld that his aides keep insisting, sotto voce, that he’s about to make. Well, good for him. The logic of Mr. Pataki rushing out and endorsing the lanky man from Massachusetts escapes us. We don’t have a particularly negative opinion of Mr. Weld. He gave a fine performance when he stopped by the paper. But he’s up against a contender in John Faso who has worked his way up the hard way, has taken principled stands, and has gained enormous credibility. The far better position for the governor to take would be to work to ensure that the candidate is chosen by a primary.
The efforts of the Republican party bosses seeking to pre-empt a primary haven’t fared well. The party bosses pushed Jeanine Pirro into the race ready or not, muscling out a conservative candidate, Ed Cox, who was itching for a primary. Ms. Pirro proved to be a less than ideal candidate, most notably because a string of gaffes showed that she wasn’t ready for the spotlight of a race against Senator Clinton. Mr. Weld doesn’t suffer from that problem. He’s a political veteran, having already been governor of another state. He’s the anti-Pirro in that he possesses all the poise of an experienced politician.
Yet it’s hard to see how such experience alone will inoculate Mr. Weld against the fate that befell Ms. Pirro. Her most serious problem was not her lack of experience; it was that she failed to be different enough from Senator Clinton to excite voters. She was so uninteresting that she lacked defenders in the grassroots who could have argued that she just needed more time to hone her stump speech. What New York’s Republican Party needs is the kind of debate among its candidates that only a primary can generate. That’s how a contender is going to be crafted.
As Republicans head into a convention next week, and as the governor wrestles with whether to endorse Mr. Weld, the thing to remember is that a lot can happen in four months. Mr. Weld has put forth some intriguing ideas on fiscal and tax policy, but it’s difficult to see him sustaining a position could be called “politically incorrect” for the length of time it will be necessary to create real change in New York. Mr. Faso has time in grade that’s more persuasive on this point. But the best way to resolve this would be for there to be a Republican primary, and for that reason alone what passes for party leadership at the moment will do Republicans a service by getting out of the way and letting a primary play out with minimal intervention on their part.