The Art of Going for Broke

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Eliot Spitzer has clearly broken the spine on the book of running way ahead. With poll numbers like he’s enjoyed – it surely makes sense to act like a pacesetter.

He avoids all talk about his primary challenger Tom Suozzi (as documented earlier in this space thanks to Karen DeWitt).

And he doesn’t exactly go out on the stump during these early days and talk about anything radically provocative. After all, how controversial is it to appoint a person who will "depoliticize" investment in science-related business and who calls for investing in the next Erie Canal.

Then you listen to another gubernatorial candidate – and you know he’s been flipping through the pages of book on running from the back of the pack.

Randy Daniels is articulate, direct and eager to speak out. He’s also running third in a three person race for the nomination of the Republican Party, which itself is running behind the Democrats and Spitzer.

Daniels does fighting from behind very well. During an interview on WXXI’s Need to Know program… he exhibited a number of the classic moves of the candidate trailing the field….

I’M BOLD, THEY’RE NOT – "There’s been a lot of tinkering around the edges. Well-meaning programs designed to help foster economic development to attract investment and create jobs. But tinkering around the edges will not solve New York’s problem. That’s what makes me different from everybody who’s running…on both sides of the aisle."

PROMISES BEYOND THE SAFE ONES – "I’m the only one that’s called for a freeze of the budget for three years at its current spending level."

SAYING NO – WHEN IT MIGHT BE UNPOPULAR – When asked about exempting Upstate New York from certain laws, such as the Wicks Law or the Scaffold Law (which have been deemed by business as hindering job growth)… he said, "It does not make sense to carve out regions for special programs. Special programs aren’t going to get us where we need to be."

SAYING YES – WHEN IT MIGHT BE UNPOPULAR – On merging or consolidating local governments, he said: "You have to be able to pay for it every good Republican ought to believe in sound, fiscal policy first and foremost. I believe that the solutions to most problems lie closest to where people are. But we have governments at the local level in New York that cannot be sustained by the tax base that they have."

GUNNING FOR NUMBER ONE, AS IN MR. SPITZER – "You don’t have to destroy a company in order to save it. You don’t have to erode shareholder value because you want press coverage as opposed to negotiating the solution that solves the problem and saves jobs. You don’t kill companies. You don’t kill jobs. You don’t kill dreams to build up your political career. And I believe that has been a byproduct of what he has done. Enforcing the law is not issue. It is enforcing the law and trying to politically benefit from it – that’s the problem."

Hey, what does Daniels have to lose at this point? And surely you have seen some candidates rise from nowhere to compete – because they have been free-wheeling and straight-shooting. (Hello Paul Tsongas… you too John McCain).

But it always seems to change when the back of the pack folks gain ground. Suddenly they throw out the old book and pick up the frontrunner’s copy.

Here’s to hoping that ALL candidates this year decide to go for broke a bit more. A down and out New York could use it.