ALBANY—Unprompted, John T. Sullivan sent me an e-mail this morning.
"I know you already have me down as a B list candidate, so I can only assume that is because you know knowthing of my background, and experience. Let me try to correct that," he wrote.
And after I reached him on his cell phone, the 62-year-old deputy director of the Medicaid Inspector General's office explained that he's stepping up his campaign to win the Democratic nomination to succeed John McHugh in Congress, a designation he hopes to receive Monday when the 11 county chairs meet in Blue Mountain Lake.
"This is the first day that I've been really free to get out there and get my message across. I've been really chained, to some extent," he said. "Darrel Aubertine was the biggest constraint, and he Hatch Act said that if some of your monies come from the federal government, as it does here, you can't engage in party politics."
Some other candidates–there are nine–have hired consultants, developed web sites aggressively pushed for press attention. Not Sullivan.
He explained that he's now taken a leave of absence from the Medicaid position until Monday, and will then retire if nominated. He proceeded to walk me through the C.V. he had forwarded to the chairs–a stint as mayor of Oswego, where he began the Harborfest event; years practicing as an attorney; five years as an assistant attorney general in Watertown and years of activity in the state Democratic Party.
Sullivan began making fund-raising calls today, and said that in five hours he was able to raise "in the tens of thousands of dollars range." A widowing father of
three four, he currently resides in Green Island, a village just west of Troy.
In making his pitch to party leaders, Sullivan included another credential that caught my eye: "If a special election were to be held, the time frame would be doable for me, and given my age (62) the threat that the district may not exist in three years does not bother me!"
Sullivan told me, unequivocally, he would not run in a primary against sitting Representatives Michael Arcuri, Dan Maffei or Scott Murphy if the 23rd district were gutted in redistricting.
"I would consider putting the cherry on the top of the cake on my political career, and retiring with the title of congressman," he said. "That would be an honor. But I think if the Republicans are successful, you can kiss it goodbye. I think if a Democrat wins we have some chance of maintaining some semblance of a North Country district."
Republicans have designated Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava as their candidate. While McHugh has not yet resigned from this seat, a source inside the Paterson administration said the governor expects to call a special election for the same day as either the primary or general election.