Are Seawright campaign attacks dirty? Do they threaten spinning the election away from legitimate issues? Another loss puts some questions to bed.
By David Stone
- Seawright Campaign Loses Another Round As Bobilin Turns Back Technical Challenge.
- But At The Beginning
- Conclusion: Seawright Campaign Dirty Tricks
Seawright Campaign Loses Another Round As Bobilin Turns Back Technical Challenge.
“I feel vindicated, as a fifth-generation New Yorker,” said progressive Patrick Bobilin after the State Supreme Court dismissed a challenge by Seawright surrogate Peter Patch.
“It’s a win for the working class, against a powerful and moneyed political establishment that uses the power of the legal system for political purposes, rather than for the good of justice.”
Captured on video physically interfering with Bobilin’s efforts at collecting signatures for his run against Seawright, Patch next attacked on technical grounds.
Both Bobilin and Liberal/Republican challenger Lou Puliafito charged hypocrisy. When the Seawright Campaign failed to qualify as a major party candidate, she told the New York Post that technical challenges were “Soviet-style.”
She accused Puliafito of disenfranchising voters, but longtime Team Rebecca member Peter Patch used the same weapons anyway.
But Seawright lost, even after bringing in the big guns associated with the Albany Democratic power structure. Patch was represented by Stanley Schlein, an associate of Speaker Carl Heastie, and known as a “Bronx fixer.”
Patch lost multiple earlier “Soviet-style” attempts to kick both Puliafito and Bobilin off the ballot, claiming they didn’t collect enough signatures.
Ruling in favor of defendant Bobilin…
“In the face of overwhelming evidence in favor of Mr. Bobilin, contrary evidence … only presents ambiguities in the residency calculus,” ruled Judge Carol Edmead of the New York County Supreme Court.
“The Court finds that the evidence, viewed comprehensively, demonstrates that Mr. Bobilin meets the five-year residence requirement under the New York State Constitution and is therefore eligible to be placed on the ballot…”
But this may not be the last we hear of it as the Seawright Campaign grumbled about an appeal.
“I hope that they are not choosing to appeal,” Bobilin said. “It’s disturbing to know that, during the most consequential election of our lifetime, a Democrat is fighting for less democracy and less voter participation.”
But At The Beginning
As noted before, Seawright’s campaign to hold her 76th District NYS Assembly seat paints a picture much different than in the past. Marked by a bumbling start that lost her a sure win spot on the Democratic party line, the campaign devolved quickly into questionable tactics.
Those continue, and they’ve been enhanced by dirty tricks played out by the group she calls “Team Rebecca.”
Are Seawright Campaign Attacks Dirty?
“After saying that technical objections shouldn’t keep her off the ballot, Seawright has now filed specified objections via Peter Patch,” rival candidate Patrick Bobilin told The Roosevelt Island Daily.
Patch is an original member of Team Rebecca since her first successful 2014 campaign, and he attended her 2015 inauguration. He earned Seawright’s praise during her acceptance speech.
But more important, this year, Patch followed Seawright’s struggling campaign downhill. Not only is he employing tactics she condemned, he’s caught on video “harassing” Bobilin on the street.
Update, August 25th, 2020
At a hearing yesterday, Seawright’s representative withdrew a challenge to the independent Liberal Party candidacy of Lou Puliafito. The challenge claimed that his petitions did not contain enough valid signatures, but experts found that false.
Puliafito appears on the November ballot as both a Republican and a Liberal candidate, opposing Seawright and Blue Wave progressive Patrick Bobilin.
Seawright’s Team Rebecca mounts its most aggressive attacks on fellow Democrat Bobilin. She challenges his petitions on obscure technical grounds, including residency and insufficient valid signatures. Those challenges were set aside for now and will be reconsidered in September.
Soviet Union-Style Tactics
After Republican challenger Lou Puliafito knocked Seawright off the November ballot, the Seawright Campaign accused him of dirty tricks. Technical challenges, she said were “Soviet Union-style” politics, seeking to disenfranchise voters.
The incumbent was firmly against them. Until she wasn’t.
Seawright ally, Peter Patch, filed technical objections to petitions submitted by both Bobilin (Blue Wave) and Puliafito (Liberal). But when asked about the apparent contradiction, her spokesman Michael Arena declined comment.
“I am not worried,” Puliafito said.
Getting Physical: Seawright Campaign Dirty Tricks
Greater concerns rose with reports that Patch attacked Bobilin in public, interfering while the rival candidate worked the sidewalk.
According to Bobilin, Patch confronted him “…while petitioning, while wearing Seawright gear, and while taking off his mask. He was yelling ‘don’t vote for him, he’s a weird guy.'”
Among other things, weird may be in the eye of the beholder.
The Bobilin campaign supplied two videos showing Patch attacking Bobilin, interfering with his attempts to collect signatures. The videos are clear, but the lens jerks around as Bobilin struggles to evade Patch.
But it didn’t end there.
Shown these videos, Arena did not reject Patch’s tactics nor did he apologize on behalf of the campaign.
Instead, he wrote, “It’s absolutely disgraceful that Patrick, with his proven record of bullying, is once again harassing and trying to intimidate a resident of the Assembly District for simply supporting another candidate.”
Arena did not cite any instance of “bullying” by Bobilin, and he implies that reporting Patch’s behavior amounts to “harassing and trying to intimidate” the Team Rebecca member.
Who is Peter Patch?
Peter Patch is a Democratic Party activist who has never, to our knowledge, used similar tactics in the past.
Adding him to Community Board 8 in 2015, city council member Ben Kallos described Patch as “an Adjunct Professor of Business and Economics at CUNY, School of Professional Studies, and a career coach for Veterans in transition following their service in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Patch’s relationship with Seawright also includes an oddball nomination for the Cornell Tech Community Task Force. What made it so odd was that, although all other relevant electeds added actual Roosevelt Island community members, Seawright put in Patch, a non-resident without known connections.
Conclusion: Seawright Campaign Dirty Tricks
In the end, it may be that Patch’s actions are simply symbols of a desperate reelection campaign where foolish mistakes turned a Sunday stroll into a mountain climbing event.
We repeat that we haven’t taken a position in this campaign. We posted articles introducing both Patrick Bobilin and Lou Puliafito to residents. In the past, we wrote about Seawright, and we plan to again in the near future.
(Another Team Rebecca member, Linda Kane, without evidence, accused us publicly of favoring Puliafito.)
But we are concerned that the Seawright Campaign dirty tricks deflect attention from legitimate issues, and so far, she has not challenged either rival on politics.
With Bobilin, a full-blooded progressive, and Puliafito, what we used to call a “liberal Republican,” on the ballot, the 76th Assembly District faces real choices. We believe elements arising from those differences ought to be in play, not crosswalk confrontations and technical challenges that merely drain energy away from what matters.