Tuesday, August 25, 2009

2010 GOP Hopefuls: Greg Ball

Gregory R. Ball is the 31 year old Assemblyman who represents the 99th District and a potential 2010 Congressional candidate (NY-19). The 99th District is in the southern part of New York, covering parts of Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester Counties. Ball was first elected in 2006.

Prior to 2006, for 12 years, the 99th Assembly District was represented by Willis Stephens. Stephens was one of three Republicans in the State Assembly who had been consistently endorsed by Planned Parenthood. Stephens was a generational name in the district, his father and grandfather had held the seat before him for a combined total of 68 years. Stephens was "entitled" to the seat and served when elected following his father's retirement in 1994. He was constantly endorsed by traditionally liberal leaning outfits such as AFL-CIO, Environmental Advocates of New York, CSEA, and NYSUT. During his time in office, he was cited for using campaign money for personal expenses such as a clown for a child's party. In 2005, Stephens inadvertently showed the local community what he thought of them by sending out an email message to an email discussion group saying that people of his hometown of Brewster were "pontificating idiots." Enter 29 year old Greg Ball in 2006.

Greg Ball is a retired Air Force Captain, he left active duty in January 2005 and remains a member of the Air Force Reserves. He was then hired by Exceed International, an international development corporation. Through his work there, he was elevated to Vice President of Exceed's Northeastern United States within a year. In 2006, Exceed proposed a $75 million urban renewal project for the village of Brewster, within the 99th Assembly District that should, when completed, generate some $2 million annually in tax revenue for the community. With his business and military experience behind him, Ball decided to primary Stephens. In early 2005, he declared his candidacy. He ran an unorthodox campaign -- when Stephens refused to debate him, he hired a guy in a chicken suit to show up at events; when it came out that Stephens had received shady donations from an indicted trashman/reported mob boss, Ball brought trash bags to campaign events to emphasize it; when illegal immigration was being discussed across the country, Ball brought it up locally and showed that it was happening here in New York. Ball's campaign won the hearts of the district and he defeated Stephens 70% to 30%. Stephens retained ballot access on the Conservative and Independence Party lines, but declined to campaign in the fall -- instead running for a Judgeship at the last minute. After Ball's insurgent campaign, he won in 2006 with 50.8% of the vote.

Ball campaigned on reform and traditional conservative principles. He's kept to that since being in office. He wrote the New York State Property Taxpayers Protection Act which would have created an inflation-indexed cap on spending and school/property tax increases. He has proposed caps on the state sales tax on gasoline. He has supported gun rights and opposed firearm microstamping in New York. On immigration, Ball pushed the New York State Criminal Illegal Alien Deportation and Legal Hiring Act which would have authorized police to detain and start the deportation process for illegal immigrants caught committing a crime immediately. In terms of the environment, Ball is a bit of an environmentalist at heart, and has vowed to create lesiglation providing tax credits for using alternative sources of energy. He has supported Greasestock, a privately run alternative energy exposition held in Yorktown Heights, NY. He has attended since being in office.

For reelection in 2008, he faced former Brewster Mayor John Degnan. Degnan is a Republican who enjoyed also running on the Democratic Party line. He did so for Mayor of Brewster and he did so when he challenged Ball. He primaried Ball on the Republican line while retaining the Democratic Party line as well. In September 2008, a 60 year old former staff member accused Ball of sexual harassment in a letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. A panel determined in October that no sexual harassment had taken place and that the charges were fabricated. It was also discovered that the accuser had connections to Ball's opponent, Degnan. Ball won reelection by a wider margin.

Ball is preparing a bid for Congress in the 19th District in New York. He's outraising the Democratic incumbent primarily through individual donations. He's holding town hall meetings on health care throughout the 19th district.

The 19th District was represented by a Republican prior to John Hall's victory in the Democratic wave of 2006. This is a winnable district and Greg Ball is a perfect fit and great candidate for the seat.

Note: Much of this post was originally posted by me last November at Red Albany.

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