The Crumm Mountain Republican Party
54 Cornell Ave.
Crumm Mountain, NY
The Social Democratic Labor Party
712 Brinkley St.
Crumm Mountain, NY
By Bruce Tompkins
The party was officially formed in 1982, but didn't quite take the form in which we know it today, until 1997. Disillusioned by the dominance of the Republican Party machine, several of Crumm Mountains most prominent radicals called a gathering of the city's progressive community. The convention was titled Facing Forward. Many radicals attended. Labor leaders, academics, punk rockers, anarchist collectivists, civil rights leaders, and virtually every shade and stripe of fellow travelers. The purpose of the convention was to form a new party capable of obtaining power in the city, and enacting progressive changes. Harvey Gorenstein, a neo-Marxist theoretician, and the conventions chief organizer, was foremost among the attendees in support of a new party to directly challenge the Democratic Party, which in many minds was incompetent to mount a successful challenge to one-party Republican rule. Although a federal court ruling forced the city to adopt a new charter in 1975, to prevent the unfair Republican consolidation of power, there was still a general sense that the Republican Party-Crumm Mountain Police Department machine, could not be stopped. Democrat Adam Quigley was elected in 1976 and made an honest effort to dismantle the power structure set up over almost 40 years earlier when William Ten Eyck, a Republican wrested power from the Socialist Party in 1938. However, by 1980, as Reaganism was taking America by storm Quigley started dropping in the public's esteem. In 1982 he lost dramatically to Republican James Amendola. Amendola's election didn't quite herald a revival of the machine politics the city thought it put to bed almost a decade earlier but, it proved enough of a signal to the progressive community that Democrats didn't have the backbone to build the kind of movement necessary to not only win elections, but actually make a difference. Harvey Hornstein was convinced that the Democratic Party would never make a true poltical comeback in Crumm Mountain. The party had been out of power for way too long. Before Adam Quigley, the last Democrat to serve as Mayor was John Platt, Jr., who died in office in 1922.
Gorenstein knew that Crumm Mountain had a lot of potential for a radical leftist party. Just looking at the city's history could tell you this.
From 1922 to 1938 the city elected three socialist mayors, and before that, the city was the site of several radical general strikes. The remnants of the city's past had never truly been cleared away. The city still had a strong labor, academic, and activist left, only they had never been moved to vote for Democratic candidates. Gorenstein's goal was to unite these unnecessarily disparate groups into a common movement, to challenge not only the Democratic Party, but the Republican party as well.
Other prominent figures in attendance were Eugene Kramkowski, charismatic leader of the Crumm Mountain Labor Coalition, Bruce Gottfried, a perennial thorn in the side of local government and corporations, Martin Delgrasso, president of the Re-Education Center, and Mark Loebman, founder of Beyond the Pale, a local punk club. These were the individuals that came to have the most impact on the convention.
After debating over various strategies, the convention finally concluded with the formation of the Social Democratic Labor Party. Various strategies toward the Democratic Party had been entertained, however in 1987, Harvey Gorenstein seized on a Democratic vacancy on the ballot for a Common Council election. Gorenstein was able to obtain the democratic nomination. He ran on both party lines. This was the first real shot that the new party had at winning an election. The progressive community that supported the Facing Forward convention, came out full force to support Gorenstein. In January, Gorenstein came out ahead of his conservative Republican opponent Thomas Parris. Nobody knows quite how it how happened, but it did. Gorenstein has been re-elected handily every three years since.
After the 1987 election, Gorenstein's victory showed the SDLP what could be if they could run as Democrats and SDLP'rs. They then began a campaign to infiltrate the Democratic Party, gain complete control, and collapse it into the SDLP. This would seem quite ambitious, but decades of Republican dominance had reduced the Democratic party almost to irrelevance. This made the SDLP's infiltration rather smooth. Some notable resistance came in the form of Carl Fulling, a long time city councilman, and former labor supporter. Fulling, had simply grown conservative over the years, and didn't feel comfortable with the radical elements in the city. Since the mid-90's Fulling has had an adversial relationship with people such as Bruce Tompkins of The Resistance Radio Project, and the members of the Alexander Berkman Collective. Fulling has been called a "phony, drunken, careerist, in it for his own personal and professional gain." Others, have had more substantive objections to the SDLP takeover. Scott Bennett, also a city councilman, felt that merging the parties would only further alienate Crumm Mountain already alienated voters. But by the far the biggest impediment to the merger came in the form of Bob Ericson, long-time Democratic operative, and former Chairman of the Democratic Party.
Leaders of the Social Democratic Labor Party
Oscar L. Shelden
The race to succeed Mayor Grossman
Harvey Gorenstein (SDLP)
Aaron Gaglione (SDLP)
Fred Kane (SDLP)
Nathan Uniskiewicz (SDLP)
You might think that Gorenstein would run unopposed, given his role in the creation of the party, and it's development since the early 80's, but Aaron Gaglione also played a big role in the investigation of the Lewis Ward police scandals in the mid 90's, and helped to demolish the Republican party which ultimately allowed the SDLP to take power. So Gaglione is seen as quite a viable challenger at this time. Others have attempted to enter the race as well. Fred Kane; Grossman's Labor Commissioner, Nate Uniskiewicz; the police commissioner, and it has even been reported that Steve Frankowitz may be considering a run for Mayor. All of these eager beavers, may end up fragmenting the party when Grossman finally decides to hang up his hat.