Governor's Race 2002
When life-long New York City resident Ed Koch ran for governor in 1982, he made an errant remark about living in rural areas, where people have "to drive 20 miles to buy a gingham dress or a Sears, Roebuck suit." THE ALBANY TIMES-UNION summed up the comment in a headline: "Ed Koch to Albany: Drop Dead." In a 1998 upstate GOP ad, a swarm of sharks were shown emerging from the city and preparing to devour the rest of the state.
The upstate/downstate rift is about more than just cultural snobbery and campaign rhetoric. Since the early eighteenth century, when urban merchants and upstate farmers first quarreled over taxes and trade regulations, governing New York has involved balancing the interests of a massively complex city with those of a largely rural state.
As with all state elections in New York, this tension serves as a backdrop to the 2002 governor's race. It's at the heart of a controversy over which part of the state receives more education money from Albany; how to revitalize lower Manhattan without giving the flagging upstate economy short shrift; and how best to deal with a budget shortfall predicted to range anywhere from $5 to $10 billion. With the current recession, the conflict between New York City and upstate is in high relief.
Thirteen/WNET New York and WXXI in Rochester have collaborated on a project with two aims. First, to shed light on the issues that divide New Yorkers and help citizens make informed voting decisions in a critical gubernatorial race. Second, to point out the unique differences and similarities between upstate and downstate voters.
Watch for a series of spots that give voters from all over New York the opportunity to talk about Albany politics in plain English. We'll then ask the candidates how they would address those issues as governor.
In addition, two half-hour specials with the upstate/downstate views, interviews with candidates, and vignettes about specific issues will air on Thirteen/WNET on Friday, October 18 and October 25 at 10:30 PM, and then again back-to-back on Sunday, November 3 at 12:30 PM.
Governor George Pataki declined to give us an interview, but for an excellent summary of his positions click on issues 2002.
For more information about the gubernatorial election and other races, visit New York Citizens, a collaboration of public television and radio stations from across the state. It is devoted to baseline information about state issues, lawmaker contacts, and political news and issues.
For detailed and up-to-date summaries of what's happening on the campaign trail and other election information, visit GOTHAM GAZETTE's Eye on Albany.