It’s only mid-February, 9 months before Election Day, but the contenders for District Attorney and certain competitive state legislative seats are already coming into focus. Except for the Democratic Party endorsement for John Flynn for DA on Saturday, the other races are still unsettled in terms of who is supporting whom.
Flynn, of course, is not “in like Flynn.” Interim DA Michael Flaherty has built a substantial campaign fund already. Former assistant DA Mack Sacha brings established credibility to the campaign with his principled fight against Frank Sedita.
If Team Pigeon has a candidate they might come together for in the DA race, nothing is particularly evident as yet, but we can safely conclude that the old gang won’t be supporting either Flynn or Sacha. Sacha has no evident base of political support to assist in fundraising, petitioning and campaign structure. Former Democratic Executive Director Kathy Callan will bring structural expertise to Flynn’s campaign.
There is no word yet on a Republican candidate for DA.
Democratic Headquarters is moving toward an early endorsement of one-time foe Senator Tim Kennedy, but they may take some time deciding what to do about the 60th Senate District of Mark Panepinto, who barely won the 2014 election despite being in an overwhelming Democratic district. Panepinto had major support the last time from the teachers’ union and, to a degree, Team Pigeon. Pigeon ally David Pfaff is on Panepinto’s Senate staff.
Hamburg Councilman and Democratic Chairman Michael Quinn had previously expressed an interest in running for the Senate seat but that conversation seems to have died down. Former Senator Al Coppola, who nearly beat Panepinto in the 2014 primary, might run again. Amber Small, the Executive Director of the Parkside Community Association, announced her candidacy last Thursday with a press release and a very professionally done video. Ms. Small formerly worked for Mayor Brown, and County Executive Poloncarz reportedly pushed her candidacy for the County Legislature when Lynn Marinelli resigned; the seat went to Peter Savage. There is no word yet if Brown or Poloncarz will get involved in the primary contest.
Small has reportedly met in Albany with representatives of the Senate’s Independent Democratic Caucus, a breakaway group of five Democratic Senators. The IDC could assist Small with financial help, but it could come with some baggage. The IDC operates as an affiliate of the Senate Republican Majority.
Republican gadfly Kevin Stocker, who beat out Marc Grisanti in the 2014 primary, has been actively campaigning for the Senate seat for months. If County Clerk Chris Jacobs passes on the seat, Stocker will probably be the default Republican candidate.
The Cheektowaga-Lancaster 143rd District State Assembly seat presently held by Republican Angela Wozniak will see a primary for the Democratic line between Cheektowaga Councilman and school teacher Jim Rogowski and UB law professor Monica Wallace. Rogowski is likely to draw on the support of the Max faction of the Cheektowaga party, and Rogowski also has the advantage of having run for office a couple times. Politics is part of the Rogowski family business. Jim’s dad Bill was a long-time Cheektowaga officeholder.
Ms. Wallace will likely have the support of the Party organization, including the County Committee, which helped to elect Diane Benczkowski as the new Cheektowaga Town Supervisor. Look for a serious battle for this seat. Incumbent Angela Wozniak has several problems to contend with, including an unsettled sexual harassment investigation; nearly no money in her campaign account; a district that is 2 to 1 Democratic in enrollment; and a presidential election year that will heavily favor a Democrat in Cheektowaga-Lancaster in November.
While other local legislative seats could develop serious contests before November, the one most likely to draw attention will be in the 145th District, with incumbent Republican-turned-Democrat John Ceretto facing recently retired Niagara Falls judge Angelo Morinello. Former Republican State Senator George Maziarz has close to a million dollars left in his campaign account, and his legal expenses out of that account have diminished considerably. Look for Maziarz’s involvement with Morinello’s campaign. Team Pigeon often seems drawn to Niagara County races, so it would not be surprising to see them line up for Morinello as well. Ceretto will benefit both from his incumbency and the resources of the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee.
The South Carolina primaries
I will be in South Carolina from Wednesday through Sunday this week. I hear there is an election going on there next Saturday.
The primary election season in a presidential campaign is like pre-season baseball in Florida. The baseball is much more up-close-and-personal because the stadiums are small and the players still haven’t worked out their winter kinks –like the presidential primaries and candidates we are watching.
I am looking forward to observing things up close, moving around in a relatively small state to a variety of events and venues as the candidates rush to Saturday.
Politics and Other Stuff will be handled a little differently this week. I will be posting a series of articles that are shorter than what I usually write. I will be sending them regularly through Sunday, so you will see more frequent posts and emails this week. I will probably use my Twitter account more actively.
This should, for a political junkie, be a fun week. As reported in Politico, “Frank Underwood is opening his campaign office [in South Carolina]. Members of the media can stop by and see Frank’s replica Oval office and get BBQ from Freddy’s BBQ.” Pic http://bit.ly/1PsywMJ