The title of the proposed movie is “Mr. Funiciello goes to Washington” and the election Tuesday will decide whether it is fiction or nonfiction.
Matt Funiciello was born and raised here, bakes bread for a living and in recent years has used his Rock Hill Bakehouse coffee shop in downtown Glens Falls as ground zero for political activism in the region. He has repeatedly advocated for perennial third-party candidate Ralph Nader, aligned himself with the state’s Green Party and regularly jousted with Post-Star editors over their shortcomings in political coverage.
Funiciello said he had a conversation with Democratic candidate and documentary filmmaker Aaron Woolf (Woolf says he does not remember the conversation) in which Funiciello suggested a scenario where Woolf realizes he has no chance to win in the dying days of the campaign and throws his support to Funiciello.
Then, Funiciello adds, Woolf could make a documentary entitled “Mr. Funiciello goes to Washington.”
“It would change the country overnight and I would be a lightning rod for political change,” Funiciello said. “Voters have to be brave.”
We don’t believe the scenario Funiciello describes is probable, but we do agree the election of a third-party candidate could send shivers through the established ranks of Republicans and Democrats. That got the attention of our editorial board as the wake-up call our country needs.
We found Aaron Woolf to be thoughtful and articulate, but lacking the bravado needed to survive the political storm that is Washington, D.C. He showed a command of Adirondack issues and a love for the region, and has largely financed his own campaign, but we wondered if he would have been a better candidate for the state Senate.
Elise Stefanik might be as good a candidate as we have seen in the past 15 years. She has grown over the past year into a confident and poised candidate with a command of the challenges facing the 21st District, but it is troubling to see the degree to which she is supported by special-interest money from outside the district. She is being groomed to be a future star in the Republican Party and our district doesn’t really seem to have much of a say in it.
We found it encouraging she tempered some of her extreme conservative views regarding climate change (she now acknowledges it is happening) and repealing Obamacare (she now agrees with several parts of the bill, although she says she still would vote for repeal), but that left us wondering who the real Stefanik stands for. We never connected with her as a person with real-life experiences.
Not so with Matt Funiciello.
He does not hedge, hesitate or filter his remarks in any way. Some might find that unnerving, perhaps even frightening. We found it largely refreshing.
Funiciello said he has spent most of his life in the working or lower middle classes and believes we are on a course to become a third-world country. He easily tells you he makes less than $20 an hour and he employs at least three people who make more than he does.
He cites ancient Rome and says we are descending into a comparable society that produces nothing while becoming increasingly self-indulgent. He does not rule out the possibility of a revolution if things do not change.
This is not a mainstream candidate. This is a candidate sounding the alarm, and he is the rare individual who truly believes he can make a difference.
“Why don’t we try voting differently for a few election cycles and see what happens?” Funiciello suggests.
Funiciello is a deep thinker. He understands the problems facing the country, and more importantly, tries to understand the causes and how they can be fixed.
If elected, he says he will be an advocate for the working class. End of story.
He believes there should be a $15 minimum wage and that corporate welfare has to be eliminated.
He says the discussion on whether climate change is real is insanity. “We know it is happening and we know it is happening very fast,” he said.
He says he refused to provide health insurance for his workers, or himself, because he can’t afford it and because he refused to pay into a “for profit” system that is corrupt. He says a single payer system is the only way to go.
In consecutive breaths, he goes after Paul Ryan and Karl Rove — so often linked with Stefanik — and then describes President Barack Obama as a “glorified sales representative.”
He can be dramatic in providing historical context for his campaign, citing Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. and saying, “People who are fighting for something are not afraid.”
Matt Funiciello is obviously not afraid.
Neither are we.
We urge you to cast your vote to send Mr. Funiciello to Washington.
Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star’s editorial board, which consists of Publisher Terry Coomes, Controller/Operations Director Brian Corcoran, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representative Mike Sundberg.