Incumbents Beware, Indeed!
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Longtime New York Assemblyman Willis Stephens was defeated in a Republican primary for a seat in Westchester County that not only has he held for six terms, but that his father and grandfather held before him. Stephens' father held it for 30 years, his grandfather for 28 years.

But Stephens isn't really opposed to illegal immigration, so he lost the primary to a 28-year old ex-Air Force officer named Greg Ball.

The Westchester Journal News ran an editorial title Incumbents Beware, that pointed out that there is no ducking the immigration issue.

No dodges, ducking

It was illegal immigration, however, that dominated the night's talk. Is it a local issue or a national one? Both, the audience grumbled. The presence of large numbers of immigrant day laborers has long frustrated communities on both sides of the Hudson River. Many local officials have long asserted that assessing workers' legal status is a federal responsibility; Congress has been unable to craft comprehensive and realistic reforms.

But no dodge was acceptable here. At the forum, sponsored by Concerned Residents of Carmel/Mahopac, even the three county judge candidates looking for primary lines were asked to weigh in on illegal immigration. Signs of a litmus test for November races?

Yes, that seems likely. This race hasn't attracted much notice outside the Westchester Journal-News and the Poughkeepsie Journal, so news of it comes to you via, courtesy of one of our readers who lives in the area.

For more on the "all politics is local" aspect of the immigration, see Mickey Kaus's recent coverage of the Randy Graf race, and his remark that

P.S.: "Local" in this year's election has an especially skewed meaning, since the only way the GOP seems to feel it can raise one of its most powerful nationally-appealing issues, immigration enforcement, is by individual House candidates bringing it up in individual races—i.e. locally! If Bush hadn't decided that he loves his semi-amnesty proposal more than he loves Speaker Hastert, that might be different. But as things stand, "local" in 2006 is a term of art often meaning "national"—or rather, meaning "an issue that would have been a national issue if we didn't disagree with our party's leader." ... Which means you can't necessarily use the low national favorability ratings of that leader—or even, maybe, of the Republican party generally—to predict the outcome of the election....

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