He’s never been to Idaho — heck, he’s never been west of Buffalo! — but Bay Ridge resident William Bryk wants to be the Spud State’s next U.S. senator.
Why would any self-respecting Brooklynite even bother? Indeed, it’s not as though Bryk has a raft of positions that gibe with Idaho’s fierce independence or a platform that matches its rough-hewn mountain ways.
For him, the challenge to Republican Sen. Mike Crapo is motivated by one thing: principle.
“Six years ago, the Democratic Party of Idaho failed to nominate a candidate,” Bryk said, appalled that the unopposed Crapo was able to secure 99 percent of the vote. “Given that it’s as easy as filling out a form and writing a check, I thought this was odd, even reprehensible.”
The state hasn’t sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1974, but who knows — it might simply be due to a lack of a hard-headed Brooklynite willing to carry the blue-and-gold flag.
It’s certainly not the first time that Bryk — whose last name rhymes with bike — has sought public office since he was student body president of Manhattan College in the mid-1970s.
Of course, back in those heady days, a guy could win on a platform of more efficient beer delivery. “The student government had a monopoly on the distribution of beer, and, of course, you needed men to load the kegs onto the truck. Patronage and an independent stream of revenue — we had all the ingredients for an authentic political organization.”
Manhattan College, he added, “was a great place for an aspiring politician.” Unfortunately, fate — or, let’s be honest, lack of political talent — dealt him a losing streak.
First came the bid for Congress in 1980 — when he lost the Democratic primary to Mark Green, of all people. Next, he ran — and lost — races for the City Council in 1996 and ’97.
He even failed in a try for Smallbany as an assemblyman in 1998.
He has not run for local dog catcher, so it is unfair to suggest that he could not indeed win such a position. But the bottom line is that his political career has not gone according to plan.
“I was not elected to Congress at the age of 25 as I had hoped,” said Bryk. “I had hoped to see greater interest in my candidacy.”
But he still burns to represent the people. Even those of a state to which he has never traveled. Hear that, Idahoans? He dares you.
“Either the Idaho Democratic Party finds someone to run, or else my name will be on the ballot,” he said.
It’s unclear if Bryk, who has written for the New York Press and the now-defunct New York Sun, is even a Democrat. He is at the moment, he says, because “eight years of George W. Bush can change a person’s mind.”
And he was a Democrat back in the 1980s and early ’90s, too. But between then and now, he ran for Staten Island district attorney on the Right to Life Party ticket and won the New Hampshire vice-presidential primary as a Republican — although the latter is admittedly a nonsense election with exactly no effect on the national Republican ticket.
In any case, he is an Obama man. In fact, he’s running on that, saying his main edge over Crapo is “an inclination to support the current president.”
Beyond that, his campaign platform ain’t much to look at. He’s for a single-payer health care system, bringing troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and not much else off the top of his head.
“The great thing about a campaign where you probably won’t win is that you can afford to tell the truth about everything.” In his first full-length interview, the Bay Ridge resident didn’t have any particular underappreciated truths in mind, but added, “I’m sure I’ll come across a few.”
Bryk is light-hearted about his Senate run, but his campaign isn’t a complete joke. After all, the Idaho party isn’t guaranteed to find a real candidate — it failed last time, remember.
The party’s executive director asserted that Democrats are fully capable of fielding a home-grown candidate this year.
“We had a lot of people interested in running against Crapo last time,” explained the official, Jim Hansen. “But as the deadline approached everybody sort of went, ‘Well…’”
He dismissed Bryk’s run as a stunt.
“Because Idaho election law doesn’t require candidates to collect signatures to get on the ballot, we always get a lot of characters running in the primaries,” Hansen said, adding, “We’ll definitely find somebody.”
That’s what they said the last time! Perhaps William Bryk really is the answer for the struggling donkeys; and here’s a bonus: if he wins the nomination, he says he’ll “absolutely” move to Idaho to face a certain defeat at the hands of Crapo.
So the utter backwardness of Idaho’s Democratic Party electorate could end up sentencing an innocent Brooklynite to desolate Western exile. No worries; Bryk is taking the threat of being forced to leave the city in stride.
“I like Brooklyn very much. It’s quiet,” he said. “But Idaho is probably quieter.”
©2009 Community News Group
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