David Stone

In his first try for political office, Robert Ardini took on Carolyn Maloney in the 12th New York Congressional District and got a shellacking, losing by roughly 6 to 1, but as his short, engaging book shows - for the most part - he won the challenge of decency and honor infrequently associated with political campaigns.

Robert Ardini: Running for Congress in Trump's Backyard

The odds against besting Maloney, then serving her twelfth term, popular and well funded, were astronomical in a district the weighs heavily Democratic and during a cycle where Hillary Clinton was expected to win easily. The national election turned out differently than anticipated, but Ardini could not have foreseen that when he made his commitment.

His book, Running For Congress in Trump's Backyard recalls his efforts.  It's a short read. A slow to average reader, I got through it in about two hours.

It could easily have been a longish magazine article. Some may agree with Ardini that, with brevity, he serves readers by not loading them down with excess detail. Another advantage is its anecdotal, engaging style. It keeps you flipping pages effortlessly.

At a point in his life where it makes sense for him, Ardini gathers skills honed through a career in marketing and publishing along with leadership in several, apolitical organizations and puts them to the test in his run for congress.

Ardini's self-effacing attempts to get support from his own party are illuminating in what they suggest about the inner workings of a political apparatus that rarely shows its true face in public. But most interesting, and his best chapter, recounts his twelve attempts, several of them amusing, others enlightening, to get the attention of a certain member of the constituency he hopes to serve.

He wants to meet "Mr. Trump," but would be happy with just a single tweet that includes his name.

Ultimately, his efforts fail. Trump doesn't seem to know him from a tree stump. But Ardini takes it in stride, and his clever tries at connecting are worth reading, all by themselves.

Ardini is a little surprised when he meets Carolyn Maloney and likes her, an experience not unfamiliar to many of us. Other than her time in office, of which Ardini, an advocate for term limits, disapproves, he has nary a critical word to say about her.

Like an honest advocate for comity between political factions, he stakes out his political philosophy and positions in constructive terms, not bashing the other side with angry or churlish comments. (His most fervent conviction is that we need to stop the growth of our national debt, but the book lists multiple positions on issues.) 

I enjoyed reading Robert Ardini's story and regretted only that he wraps it up with a gratuitous salute to President Trump, a man who represents the opposite of the decency and sincerity he espouses.

In what he calls "...a truly remarkable Trump moment," he admires the President's bashing CNN and "fake news," this from the most notorious liar ever to occupy the White House. It makes a disappointing Epilogue for an otherwise enjoyable read.