Jan 03, 2007 — In 1995, Watertown lawyer Mike Schell invited Upstate Democratic leaders to his house to brainstorm ways to make the party more relevant in rural New York. He co-founded the Democratic Rural Conference. Since then, Democrats have celebrated striking victories, from Senators Schumer and Clinton's election - and re-election - to Assemblyman Darrel Aubertine's success in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties, to Governor Eliot Spitzer's commanding victory last November. Newly installed State Democratic chairwoman June O'Neill, from St. Lawrence County, calls Mike Schell "the godfather" of rural New York Democrats. Now Schell takes on an influential position in the Spitzer administration, senior advisor for intergovernmental affairs to Governor Spitzer. He told David Sommerstein the new Governor will take new steps to bring the Upstate economy out of its perpetual recession.