“If you run a dead body, you can get about two percent of the vote,” said 29-year-old Jimmy Dahroug, a Democrat who, after losing twice to 30-year-incumbent, Republican State Senator Caesar Trunzo, of Suffolk ,seemed keenly aware of each vote he needed.
Dahroug was speaking specifically about the Working Families Party Line. Even though there’s 772 registered Working Family Party members in the 3rd Senatorial District, it accounted for nearly twice as many votes in the 2006 election (1,345). And that was with a candidate, David Ochoa, who stopped running and was actively campaigning for Dahroug.
“People just look for that Working Families Party line,” said Dahrough in an October 17 telephone interview. “To me, that was a critical factor. Having won the primary, it still would be almost impossible to win without that line.”
In June, the W.F.P. endorsed Democrat Brian Foley, the Brookhaven Town Supervisor whom the New York State Democratic Party had actively recruited into the race, well after Dahroug had activated his most recent campaign, knocked on doors and got the endorsements of progressive groups like Democracy for America, the Washington D.C.-based group founded by Howard Dean.
Trunzo has the endorsements of the Independence and Conservative Parties and will appear on their lines.
Dahroug, if he would have won the Democratic primary, would have appeared on just one line on the ballot. “Having learned how difficult campaigning can be, both within your own party, and against an entrenched Republican incumbent, you get a sense of what’s possible and what’s likely,” said Dahroug.
“If I’m just running on the Democratic line, it would put me at an important disadvantage. Plus, if we pulled off the primary, Brian Foley is still on the third party line, without actively campaigning, he would pull significant votes away. To me, that was a critical factor. Having won the primary, it still would be almost impossible to win without that line. And with having spent everything that we raised on the primary, we would have to start all over again with just less than two months.”
“The point,” he said, “was to beat Caesar Trunzo and it just didn’t seem realistic.”
In August, Dahroug endorsed Foley, and says that he has a “strong” chance of defeating Trunzo. As for Dahroug, who has worked for Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, said there is a new goal to work towards.
“My family – they’d probably be a lot better off if I made more money. So I think for now, I’m probably going to focus on doing something so I can be more financially solid,” he said. “Sometimes I wonder if I should have gone into the private sector.”
Later, Dahroug emailed to say, “In some ways I think the Bloombergs, Corzines, and Mark Warners (the self financed) had it right. They became financially independent – they could self finance and they didn’t have to play the same game. They are, as Corzine campaigned- unbossed, unsought. The sad part is, obviously, we’re not all going to be extraordinarily wealthy. So the best we can do is work to reform the political system, that’s our generation’s challenge.”