Some facts, speculation and heard-on-the-streets

Erie County DA

Michael Flaherty, as previously reported, has already assembled a large campaign war chest. It’s the politics that seem to be his problem.

There are continuing reports about his lack of political skills on the campaign trail. Most of us would prefer that a DA be as non-political as possible, but that really refers to activities such as appointments, handling cases and the like. What I am referring to is the give-and-take of campaigning, working a room, etc. That does not seem to be going so well for Flaherty.

John Flynn, having been a candidate before, is more comfortable with such activities. I have not really heard much about Mark Sacha’s campaign style.

I would not over emphasize such things. The candidates’ public records (more than what they promise to do), their campaign fundraising, and the kind of campaign team that is assembled all count for much more – usually. But then I think of Jeb Bush’s $100 million campaign fund and an identifiable public record who nonetheless was a total dud as a candidate. Sometimes that can trump everything. (Sorry, I could not resist that.)

The Panepintos

That’s the plural of Panepinto.

The Buffalo News has documented some serious issues concerning teenage parties at the homes owned and occupied, in one form or another, by Senator Marc Panepinto and his wife, Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent-Panepinto. The Senator also seems to have some serious ethics issues brewing in Albany.

Depending on how the home-front issues play out, the damage could extend beyond limiting a senatorial career. They are the Justice’s homes too, and so if there has been some behavior of kids that was illegal or in some other way destructive, I suppose those matters could invite an investigation by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

The 60th Senate District

Things are heating up in the senate district that Marc Panepinto is giving up.

I find it hard to imagine that Assemblyman Sean Ryan has much to gain by entering the race. He is already building seniority as a member of the Assembly Majority Caucus, so why take a chance on how the fractured Senate picture might play out? The 60th District will be hotly contested, but it is already held by a Democrat and the Democrats are split between the regular caucus and the five-member Independent Democratic Caucus that affiliates with the Senate Republicans. The Republicans have a lot more to gain by winning this district.

I have done a little drilling down into the numbers in the 60th Senate District. In his successful re-election campaign for Erie County Clerk in 2014, Chris Jacobs, within the confines of the senate district, received 68 percent of the vote in the overwhelmingly Democratic-by-enrollment district.

In a normal presidential election year in Erie County, a Democratic ticket headed by Hillary Clinton should mean good news for the entire ticket. But for the sake of argument, take a look at how Carl Paladino, a carbon copy in style and attitude of likely Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, ran in the 60th district in the 2010 gubernatorial election. Paladino carried the senate district 60/40.

There are several potential Democratic candidates in the district, but none of them start off with significant name recognition or cash, so even with a strong Democratic enrollment edge the eventual Democrat in this district is going to need a large number of non-Trumpkin Republicans to stay home on November 8.

I have the perfect polling firm for you

Is one-stop shopping coming to the Erie County Republican Party? Michael Caputo on WBEN last week made mention of a Republican presidential poll conducted by Liberty Opinion Research. The poll showed Trump well ahead in New York State.

The president of Liberty Opinion Research is Nick Langworthy, Erie County Republican Chairman. Langworthy has endorsed Trump. The poll results that Caputo referred to seem to parallel Trump’s identified margin in the state in other polls, so there is no need to question the validity of the results.

What does seem questionable is how running a polling firm fits in with being a party chairman. The question would be even more prominent among the NYC media if Nick is ever successful in becoming state chairman. Those NYC media-types are barracudas.

It will be particularly interesting later this year to see if candidates endorsed by the Erie County Republican Committee, when filing their financial reports, disclose that they have employed Liberty Opinion Research. We can speculate about the propriety of that if and when such things occur.


Mayor Byron Brown is in the third year of his third term as mayor, so naturally it is time to speculate on what happens in 2017.

We have only had three different mayors of Buffalo in the past 39 years, so it would not be surprising for Mayor Brown to run for another term. People can become bored, or a mayor’s shelf-life sometimes intervenes, but things have been going pretty well in city government lately, so there doesn’t seem that there will be anything pushing the Mayor to leave. There could be opportunities, of course, to join the Cuomo or a Clinton administration.

In the meantime speculation about possible mayoral candidates comes up occasionally, with City Comptroller Mark Schroeder and Council President Darius Pridgen’s names most prominently mentioned. Only time will tell.

Niagara County politics

Or perhaps it should be Maziarz County politics. While we await the re-emergence of former Senator George Maziarz as an OTB executive, the senator seems to have been busy. He recently picked up a lobbying contract for Niagara Falls Medical Center. Right off the bat in January he promoted the candidacy of Angelo Morinello as the Republican challenger to newly-Democratic Assemblyman John Ceretto.

The sudden vacancy in the office of County District Attorney now seems to be generating more action from the Mariarz political tree. Caroline Wojtaszek is the wife of Maziarz protégé and former Niagara County Republican Chairman Henry Wojtaszek. Mrs. Wojtaszek, Clerk to a Niagara County Court Judge, is interested in running for DA and just so happens to be a registered Democrat. So she could file in a Democratic primary but also be allowed by the party to run as a Republican.  An article in the Niagara Falls Reporter explains how far the Maziarz connection reaches.

As they say in those infomercials, but wait! Order now and we’ll send you … two DA candidates from the Maziarz team. Ronald Winter, a Supreme Court Clerk, is interested in running. Ronald Winter just so happens to be the brother of long-time Maziarz associate and current lobbyist Rick Winter.

Just to complete the picture, Ronald Winter is the Clerk for Supreme Court Justice Richard Kloch. Caroline Wojtaszek’s sister-in-law is a Niagara County Judge. Kloch’s secretary is sister to Henry and Paul Wojtaszek. Paul is also a State Supreme Court Justice. Justice Wojtaszek’s secretary is George Maziarz’s wife.

It would seem that a District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek could have potential conflicts in the Niagara County courts.

A couple of actual Democrats have also indicated that they might want to run for DA but they need to figure out how that might affect their current day jobs. And of course Governor Andrew Cuomo could step into the picture as well and name an interim DA for the remainder of 2016.

I guess I could draw a diagram of all this if I had the time to do so, but for the time being just re-read this section of the post if you are confused. Or perhaps try