Presidential politics coming to a state near you; a Panepinto issue; Kevin Dillon

With all the attention focused on the very large 2016 presidential election field and the upcoming contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, it is easy to forget that New York State will have its own presidential primary. How big a role our state will play in the process remains to be seen.

New York State has rarely in recent times had a serious role to play in choosing party nominees for president. Going back in history New York governors were frequent candidates (Samuel Tilden; Theodore Roosevelt; Charles Evans Hughes; Franklin Roosevelt; Thomas Dewey).  And we do, of course, have our former United States Senator, Hillary Clinton, as the probable Democratic candidate in 2016.  By the time we get to the New York primary on April 19th Martin O’Malley will be long gone and Bernie Sanders will likely be fading fast.

Local Democrats have their Clinton and Sanders presidential delegate slates in place. Petitioning has begun.  Erie County Democratic Chair Jeremy Zellner tells me that “we are working and cooperating with the great group of people who are Bernie Sanders people in Erie County.  Brian Nowak is leading the efforts for Bernie.  We have worked very closely directly with the campaign to put the two slates together for Hillary Clinton and we are the point of contact for the 26th and 27th CD.”

The delegate candidates offer a traditional political contrast. While both the Clinton and Sanders delegate candidates come with credible resumes, the Clinton folks add an element – political recognition.  Current and former officeholders lead the Clinton slates, which include County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Buffalo Common Council President Darius Prigden, former Clinton Senate Counsel Leecia Eve, Amherst Town Council member Romona Popowich, former City Court Judge Margaret Murphy and attorney Craig Bucki.  “Our early endorsement and our record-setting fundraiser for Secretary Clinton last month show the depth of our commitment to this campaign,” Zellner said.  A local fundraiser in November, which Mrs. Clinton attended, raised nearly $400,000.

Local Sanders delegate candidates include several educators and union members. There are no current or former office holders on the Sanders slate.

Zellner tells me that as of the start of the petitioning process there was not an identifiable group of local Democrats working for Martin O’Malley. Petitions for delegate candidates are due in to the Board of Elections by February 4th.  The Democratic presidential primary in New York State this year will be dominated by Hillary Clinton.  Her local candidates have the added advantage of name recognition in what will probably be a low turnout event.

The Republican presidential process in New York

Each party can establish its own procedures for selecting presidential primary delegates. The Republican process will go as described below.  Keep in mind that the Iowa caucuses will be held on February 1 and the New Hampshire primary is February 9th.  Those two events will narrow the current 11 candidate field.

  • Between January 26th and February 16th nationally-known candidates or candidates eligible for federal matching funds may file a certificate with the state Board of Elections requesting to appear on the April primary ballot.
  • The state Board must certify candidates by February 24th.
  • Candidates may withdraw their names from the ballot by March 22nd.

The Iowa and New Hampshire Republican contests will likely eliminate Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. Carl Paladino will be leading the Trump effort in Western New York and probably elsewhere in the state. Florida resident Bob Rich and Congressman Chris Collins are prominent Jeb Bush supporters. Mark Hamister and company are with Marco Rubio. No identifiable local support is evident for Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina or Rand Paul. Some of the candidates may file certificates of candidacy prior to February 16th but likely will withdraw by March 22nd. The April 19th Republican primary will probably be down to Trump, Rubio and Cruz. Just as Carl Paladino swept the Republican primary for governor in 2010, look for Trump to do very well in New York.

For those who like political inside baseball stuff, there is a recent New York article about how state and local Republicans tried to get Donald Trump to run for governor in 2014. I will leave an assessment of how accurate the article is to Carl Paladino, Nick Langworthy, Michael Caputo and others. You can link to the article here.

A new issue for Panepinto

The Daily News yesterday included a story suggesting a possible conflict of interest for Senator Marc Panepinto. The issue involves donations to Panepinto’s campaign fund by law firms that have matters before the senator’s wife, State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent Panepinto. Senator Panepinto dismisses the allegation.

Given his close calls in both the primary and general elections in 2014, negative news of any sort is not going to help Senator Panepinto as he prepares for his upcoming re-election bid.

Kevin Dillon

The local legal community lost a giant with the passing of Kevin Dillon last week. After a time of well recognized private practice, Dillon went on to serve with honor as Erie County District Attorney and Supreme Court Justice. Kevin had his father Mike’s upbeat personality. He fought a long and hard fight when medical issues took hold of his life. Rest in peace, Kevin.