Karl Brabenec caught using Philadelphia mayor’s picture.
The likeness provides surprising irony in a divisive campaign.
In another stroke of what has become known as Brabenec-brilliance, NY State Assemblyman Karl Brabenec decided to channel the spirit of former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo for his latest campaign literature.
The recent mailer sent to voters in the 98th State Assembly District shows a picture of Karl Brabenec’s face badly Photoshopped onto a dated photo of the famous big city mayor against a backdrop of Philadelphia’s City Hall. The image was apparently intended to invoke a ‘tough-guy’ stance against Albany corruption. Brabenec’s record against corruption, however, leaves much to be desired. Namely, action for starters.
Rizzo, a Democrat, was mayor of Philadelphia from 1972 to 1980. He ran for that office after serving as the city’s police commissioner for the prior four years. The City Charter prevented him for serving more than two consecutive terms. He ran again unsuccessfully for the office in 1987 against incumbent Democrat Wilson Goode, that city’s first African-American mayor. Rizzo also hosted a local radio show for many years after his mayoral term. During another subsequent run in 1991, Rizzo was the front-runner before succombing to a major heart-attack. He died that year.
The legacy of Rizzo is mixed. While popular among his supporters, he also enacted one of the city’s largest tax increases to offset union contracts and unsuccessful programs at a time when the city’s population was in decline. Rizzo was also accused of awarding a city contract to the Democratic Party Chairman, Peter Camiel. A polygraph to which Rizzo agreed showed that he lied about the dealings.
Earlier this year, Brabenec chided his Republican primary opponent, John Allegro, for having just become a Republican “10 months ago”. In invoking Rizzo, Brabenec neglected to realize that Rizzo had switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1987 to run against incumbent Democrat Goode. He lost by narrow margins in a vote that represented the black/white split of the Philadelphia electorate.
Rather an ironic position for Karl Brabenec to invoke a lifelong party loyalist who flipped his affiliation. And one who led a major constituency in a race divided along racial and ethnic lines. Karl Brabenec now appears to invoke that image to present him as the alternative to Rockland Democrat Aron Wieder, and in being the “anti-KJ” candidate.
Perhaps Rizzo’s record was not the one to run on. Unless you count Rizzo’s penchant for blustering-yet-stupid comments and quotes. One such comment made to the press in his 1971 mayoral run boasted, “Just wait after November you’ll have a front row seat because I’m going to make Attila the Hun look like a faggot.” We wonder whether Karl Brabenec had truly researched the record of the late mayor before co-opting his image.
This website is awaiting comment on Karl Brabenec’s use of the likeness.
In the view of this website, we’re left wondering if the future of Orange County politics is left to an amateur parody of our national election. And you really cannot make this stuff up.