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that-kind-of-liberal Rachel LavineObscure politics of State Committee members are little known to most people but do they count?  In a recent article published by The Villager , Rachel Lavine offered some good examples.  Here’s an excerpt, or click on the link to read the full article.

What does it mean to be the New York Democratic State Committeewoman for the 66th Assembly District, a long title for a political position whose duties are obscure to most voters? It entails two principal duties.

The first is voting for candidates for statewide office at the New York State Democratic Convention; this allows them to bypass the onerous (and expensive) process of collecting the required number of signatures of registered Democratic voters, county by county, throughout the state.

The second duty, equally dear to the hearts of policy wonks like myself, is the drafting, promulgating and passing of resolutions by the 360-member body of the Democratic State Committee. These resolutions help to shape the State Democratic Committee position on current political issues, as well as serve to educate and lobby Democrat leadership, on a range of current concerns, such as fracking.

As the State Committeewoman for the New York 66th A.D., I am fortunate in having a particularly important vote, because in the State Committee not all votes are created equal. Those of us who represent heavily Democratic districts such as ours have the “weight” of our vote correlated to the number of Democratic voters who cast ballots during the most recent gubernatorial election. Since our Assembly District has one of the state’s highest Democratic turnouts, I, thanks to my fellow voters, have one of the “heaviest” votes — equal to or greater in weight than the combined vote of some Upstate counties! Which means that when Democratic candidates for statewide office are seeking to obtain the required minimum of 25 percent of the total State Committee vote, they actively seek the votes of State Committee members such as myself.

I am particularly proud of my role as the major force in getting the State Committee to support, after many years of opposition, first domestic partnership, and then same-sex marriage, many years prior to Governor Cuomo’s historic advocacy of marriage equality and the passage of that important legislation.

My most recent political work has been in opposition to hydrofracking. I have twice drafted resolutions, which I put forward at two separate Democratic State Committee meetings, demanding that there be a ban on hydrofracking in New York. Both resolutions garnered substantial support from the State Committee membership, from both Upstate and Downstate. The first time the resolution was killed in the Executive Committee, based on a voice vote, despite calls for a roll-call vote. As a result, the second time I brought in members of the Sierra Club and of Upstate communities who have been adversely affected by fracking; they explained what the environmental consequences would be, and rebutted some of the economic arguments made about fracking — in particular, the argument that fracking is good for economically stagnant or depressed areas….read more at

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