Tom Wade will step down as Rensselaer County Democratic Party Chairman at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Executive Committee, according to a number of sources.
Wade, who retired from the Rensselaer County Board of Elections before becoming chairman, headed up the party for a dozen years.
“I will make a statement to the Executive Committee tomorrow night, and I really don’t want to say anything more until then,” Wade said.
Wade’s Troy chair, Jack McCann, stepped down earlier this month.
It is expected the Executive Committee will nominate Wade’s number two guy, Mike Monoscalchi, as its new chairman Tuesday. That nomination will then go to the full committee for a vote.
The Democrats have dominated City of Troy elections for a dozen years, and under Wade’s guidance elected two Democratic Party mayors back-to-back – Lou Rosamilia and Patrick Madden.
In 2011, Wade upset a faction of his party by pulling the plug on the mayoral campaign of Clement “Chappy” Campana – who was faltering against Republican Carmella Mantello – at the 11th hour and replaced him with Rosamilia.
Rosamilia went onto handily beat Mantello, but the party tried a half-hearted attempt to replace Wade with Robert “Rabbit” Riley the following year. The committee overwhelmingly elected Wade to another two-year term, and the coup was essentially squashed in the most democratic of ways – an election.
During Wade’s tenure, Democrats also maintained a majority on the City Council for all of those 12 years, except this one, and the party now controls all six Troy seats on the county Legislature. Countywide he didn’t fare as well. Kathy Jimino and Frank Merola have not faced an opponent for county executive and county clerk, respectively in at least three election cycles and while there has been some spirited campaigns for district attorney and sheriff, both positions are currently held by Republicans.
Wade, who turns 70 next year, is a staunch Democrat through and through and was a driving force behind ending the shameless practice of the two major parties cross endorsing supreme court judges rather than having the electorate decide.
In 2007 he, along with Green Island Democratic Party patriarch Jack McNulty, bucked powerful members of their own party – including Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings – and backed Pat McGrath for Supreme Court rather than Republican incumbent Anthony Carpinello.
In the first contested judicial race for the Third District in more than a decade, McGrath went on to crush Carpinello, and that election set a new standard for how justices are picked – by the people rather than by party bosses.
The position of county chairman, however, is thankless in many ways. While some perks include going to conventions and helping people get jobs in various levels of government, it is time consuming and the longer you stay in the job the more enemies you will make – both within and outside your own party.
That can be said for any chairman in any county but in Rensselaer County politics is considered a blood sport and Wade played it with a good amount of success – both as a commissioner and as chairman – for a lot of years.
On a personal note, I have covered Wade for more than 20 years. He always returned a phone call – even when he knew I was calling about something not favorable to either himself or one of his candidates – and he always was happy to share his wealth of knowledge about the political process and politicians in general.
I also found him to be honest and forthright.
Really, that’s all a reporter/columnist can ask of a politician and I hope he enjoys the beaches on Cape Cod.
Jim Franco has covered the Capital District for more than 20 years. He can be reached at 878-1000 or by email at [email protected]
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