Fresh faces are a welcome sight in politics: new voters, young candidates, energetic first time volunteers. When fresh faces don’t show up at your campaign headquarters, you know you are in trouble.
But sometimes, a young candidate is just too green to be considered ripe for the job. And that alone is a reason for defeat.
Shoe leather often wins local races and nobody knows that better than Steve Meyer, the Democrat running for New York State Assembly in District 146. It’s been an uphill campaign against popular incumbent Republican Assemblyman Ray Walter, but the first time candidate has made a race of it. Like Walter, he’s been knocking on doors across the district.
A friend of mine answered his front door bell to find the 22-year old first time candidate on his porch. A habitual voter registered with no political party, my pal – let’s call him Pete - is one of those rare breeds: an undecided voter. He endures dozens of robocalls every election season; candidate after candidate rings his bell. He’s used to it.
But Meyer pushed his buttons. Thin on resume, the recent college graduate who has not yet found a job, didn’t have much to say for himself. Instead, he spent most of his time beating up on Walter. “Did you know your Assemblyman opposes women’s rights?” he asked. Pete knew this was false, but he wanted to hear the kid spin out the bogus narrative that is failing the Democrat Party nationwide: Republicans are anti-women.
“No, I didn’t know that. Let me get my wife,” he answered. When his wife came to the door, Meyer doubled down. He rattled off Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 10-point “Women’s Rights Agenda,” intimating that Walter opposed the gamut. (He doesn’t.) But what really set Pete the Undecided on edge was Meyer’s discussion of the Governor’s 10th point: legalized partial birth abortion.
It’s the only part of the plan that Republicans oppose; Senate leaders offered to pass the other nine parts of Cuomo’s plan. But the 10th, which would allow non-doctors to perform partial birth abortions in the ninth month, was a poison pill. The Governor, always political, had put the drastic measure in the package to give Democrat candidates a talking point: by opposing the 10th measure, the GOP could be tarred as opposing the nine others too.
Those include equal pay, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and other measures that nobody in the state opposes – certainly not Ray Walter. But no matter: Truth is a casualty every election season.
Meyer said Walter opposes a woman’s right to choose and wants to roll back abortion rights in New York. Pete asked him to describe the 10th portion of the Agenda, and Meyer danced delicately around the fact that healthy full-term babies could be terminated in the womb.
Meyer eventually went to the Democrat Party talking points: If Walter opposes the Governor’s Agenda, he is out of step with his district and certainly does not support women. Pete’s wife turned on her heel and left the two men at the front door.
Pete later asked his wife why she walked away from the new-graduate-turned-candidate. She reminded him of something many know but few talk about: Ray Walter and his beautiful wife Jennifer lost twins late in a pregnancy not long ago.
To Pete’s wife, Meyer showed his true colors when he disregarded this tragedy and used killing babies late in a pregnancy to degrade Walter. Anybody who would do that doesn’t deserve her vote.
When Pete told me this, I shrugged it off. But, you know what, she’s right. If Meyer didn’t know about the Walter family’s heartbreak, he is incompetent. Or, he knew about it and just didn’t care – making him unfit for public office.
More than anything, this shows a lack of experience – something the Erie County Republican Party thinks makes Meyer unqualified to serve the people of the 146th Assembly District. In fact, they put a significant buy down on a biting radio ad pounding this theme home.
By all measures, there is a stark contrast between Steve Meyer and Ray Walter. Walter was first elected to the New York State Assembly in 2011 and was re-elected in 2012. He’s popular in his district, which includes the Towns of Amherst and Pendleton and the Village of Williamsville.
Through his law practice, Walter knows first hand how high taxes hurt the most vulnerable members of our community: the elderly. Meyer has never held a job of consequence, just graduated from American University a few weeks ago and still does not have a job today.
In the Assembly, Walter serves as the Ranking Minority Member of the Aging Committee and on the Committees on Ways & Means, Health, Insurance, Banks and Housing. He has cast hundreds of votes on behalf of his constituents. Meyer, knowing he wanted to go to Albany, started the State Legislative Awareness Project, a group nobody has heard that has had zero impact. Anywhere.
But, Meyer’s Web site notes he has some political experience: he wrote to Texas Governor George W. Bush as a young boy. It’s downright cute that he thinks the future President “engaged in a back-and-forth conversation,” not a team of interns in an Austin basement office.
Assemblyman Walter worked for ten years in the hardscrabble world of automotive sales in Western New York. While working full time, he took more time away from his young family to earn a law degree at the University at Buffalo. He clerked for the United States Attorney’s Office, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office and for an area law firm. He also served as a research assistant for the Erie County Charter Revision Commission.
Today Walter works for Magavern Magavern Grimm law firm and has since 2007. Notably, Meyer has never held a real job. He did have a few internships, one in Congress where interns photocopy all day and one in a municipal lobbying outfit. There, his website hilariously claims, he “provided advice … for county executives nationwide.” (Again – isn’t he just precious?)
Ray actively participates in many civic and charitable organizations. He serves as a board member for the Amherst Senior Citizens Foundation, and as a coach for Amherst Youth Basketball. He previously served on the Amherst Traffic Safety Board, the Erie County Cultural Resources Advisory Board and the County Executive’s Council on Economic Development.
In contrast, Meyer lists no community involvement or volunteerism. Zero. But he does sport douchey, carefully trimmed beard stubble. If he spills milk on it, your housecat could lick it off.
Get serious. Vote for Assemblyman Ray Walter. And send this kid a message that he needs to get a freaking job, pay his dues, run for a lower office - and go get his shine box.