Ronald Reagan’s so-called “11th Amendment” — Thou shall not speak ill of any fellow Republican — has already been violated in the 41st Senate district.
The Dutchess County Republican Committee split with third parties last week to back Dutchess Legislature Chairman Rob Rolison as its preferred candidate to challenge Sen. Terry Gipson, D-Rhinebeck, at the polls this November. Dutchess Comptroller Jim Coughlan picked up endorsements from the Conservative and Independence chairmen, setting up a September primary battle for the GOP nod.
Now Coughlan is out with a new web video knocking Rolison for Dutchess County’s new 3.75 percent tax on energy consumption, which took effect Saturday.
The 30-second video twice shows Rolison delivering a remark from his 2014 chairman’s address — “We’ve made the hard choices, now it’s your turn” — before criticizing him for the newly-in-effect energy tax, which was part of the most recent budget passed by the Dutchess Legislature and county executive.
“It was certainly our turn when chairman Rolison pushed to adopt the brand new Dutchess County energy tax,” a narrator says. “Now, every time you turn on the heat, flip on a light switch or even charge your cell phone, you’ll going to be paying more. And now Rob Rolison wants to run for the state Senate.”
Coughlan’s web video ends with a graphic of a checked box next to the words “No more Rob Rolison,” as the narrator says: “We can’t afford any more Rob Rolison.”
But the Rolison quote used in the web video appears to be misconstrued. According to Rolison’s prepared remarks, he was speaking about Dutchess County’s representatives in the state Legislature, calling on them to relieve unfunded mandates on local governments.
“Tonight, I also issue a call to action to our state representatives,” Rolison said, according to the prepared remarks. “It’s time for you to act. We are prepared to work with you. We have made the tough choices, now it’s your turn.”
The Republican and Conservative parties were split in 2012, which helped lead to Gipson’s victory over incumbent Sen. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie. Neil Di Carlo, a conservative, continued onto the general election on the Conservative line, splitting votes with Saland.
When informed of the video Monday, Rolison said it’s “unfortunate that’s how the comptroller feels he needs to conduct himself.” He noted Coughlan said the Dutchess budget was the “best budget” he had seen in his four years in office when it was first proposed by County Executive Marcus Molinaro.
“He was for it before he was against it, and now that he’s a Senate candidate, he’s going to criticize something he originally thought was a good budget,” Rolison said.
UPDATED: Coughlan wrote to Rolison in November on his budget position — specifically that the spending plan itself was balanced, but asserting his opposition to removing the sales-tax exemption for energy costs.
The 41st Senate district includes most of Dutchess and the western half of Putnam County.
Here’s the video: