Some facts and some heard-on-the-streets

Presidential politics is dominating the news cycles. Folks who usually don’t give the subject a second thought are suddenly interested, amazed and disgusted about all things Trump. And the election is still eight months away!

By comparison, state and local politics are pretty boring. The state Republicans were in town last week to nominate Wendy Long (again) for United States senator. (It was funny that they could not bring themselves to endorse Trump.) I really do appreciate people who are willing to carry the party flag into a race such as this one against Chuck Schumer, but when a person becomes a serial candidate you have to wonder what motivates someone to do that.

On the local level there is a lot of positioning going on, with some endorsements in place and others in speculation. Here are some tidbits:

  • Geoff Kelly in The Public last week laid out an interesting chain-of-events scenario involving Jack Quinn, Brian Higgins, Mark Poloncarz, Tim Kennedy and some others. Kelly suggests that Jack Quinn, following the very tough state comptroller audit of Erie Community College, may resign the College presidency by summer after the school issues its reply to the audit. That does not seem wholly outside the realm of possibility, but Quinn has a pretty good thing going at ECC so the probability is that it will not happen.
  • Geoff then suggests that Brian Higgins will be appointed to succeed Quinn as ECC president. Brian has made it clear that he is not interested.
  • If Higgins did not resign to take the ECC job, then the remainder of Kelly’s outline unravels — no congressional campaign for Poloncarz to slip into after petitions are filed for Higgins; Tim Kennedy will not be appointed county executive by the Republican-controlled county legislature; and a Steve Pigeon plot involving his own version of Higgins for Congress petitions would not happen.
  • In Michael Caputo’s blog, on November 17, 2015, Higgins’s Chief of Staff, Chuck Eaton, was quoted as follows:  “Rumor are part-and-parcel of local politics, but this one has no basis in fact. Rep. Higgins will run for re-election in 2016.”  Chuck and I have corresponded several times since then, and Eaton stands by the quote.
  • Speaking of Pigeon, he is telling people he is supporting Michael Flaherty for District Attorney.  Steve’s ability to raise and spend money like he has done in previous campaigns, however, is somewhat constrained at this time.  Pigeon’s support of Flaherty probably will not extend much further than a vote.
  • Republican Mark Arcara, a potential candidate for District Attorney, made an appearance at the Mecca of local politics, Daisy’s in Lackawanna, last Saturday. This may have surprised Michael Flaherty. Flaherty, who previously indicated that he would not seek the Republican endorsement, seems to be changing his mind.
  • Marc Panepinto was endorsed for re-election in the 60th senatorial district last Saturday by the Erie County Democratic Committee with only token opposition. The teachers’ union has already lined up again for Marc. It remains to be seen if Amber Small can gain any traction in her primary campaign against Panepinto.
  • Chris Jacobs will be a formidable candidate for that Senate seat.  He should be able to easily defeat Kevin Stocker in the Republican primary. The imponderable here is what impact the presidential tickets will have in Erie County. Clinton versus Cruz will doom down-ballot Republican candidates in Erie County and around the state. If it turns out to be Clinton versus Trump, Hillary will win handily in state, but Trump will be more competitive in Erie County, and that could affect local elections.
  • There will only be one State Supreme Court seat on the ballot in Western New York this fall. Mary Slisz appears to be the early favorite for the Republican nomination. Orchard Park Town Justice Lynn Keane is an early Democratic frontrunner. Unlike recent years with bi-partisan Supreme Court deals, this one is probably headed to a real campaign. Once again the turnout that develops in Western New York from the presidential election will likely have a big impact on who is elected to the Court.

Finally, just wondering. Assuming for the moment that my projection of a big Hillary Clinton sweep in New York State is correct, will that be the big push of momentum that removes Ed Cox and propels Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy into the state party chairmanship? Given Nick’s support of Trump, that would be pretty ironic.