Two weeks to go until a very momentous election. This one feels different than most others in recent memories because we have been talking and watching and hearing “mid-terms,” “mid-terms,” “mid-terms,” for, it seems like, years now. The build-up has been tremendous, on all sides. I can hardly wait.
Here are some facts, observations, heard-on-the-streets:
- Oh boy, Steve Bannon is coming to town. Think back about a year ago to his braggadocio in Alabama about how his view of congressional elections was going to change the world.
- Parties go with what energizes their bases. But you win elections by expanding the base, which almost always is not big enough to win with. Bannon’s appearance, like all the Trump rallies, is like that law of motion – for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So welcome Steve, thanks for pumping things up even higher.
- It will be more interesting to see which Republican/Trumpkin candidates do not show up to greet Bannon than the ones who do. Chris Collins will probably be there since he has nothing better to do, and he’ll be safe and secure there – unless the media gets to ask him questions.
- But what about Marc Molinaro; or Mickey Kearns; or Ray Walter; or Eric Bohen? They all need a whole lot more than the Republican base.
- Speaking of Kearns, a blue wave will certainly create uncertainty for him. Angela Marinucci doesn’t have Kearns’ name recognition, but her fundraising has nearly matched Kearns. This is now a competitive race.
- Walter and Bohen have their own wave problems. Amherst is most of Walter’s district, and Amherst Democrats are riding high following their sweep of the town board last year. Bohen has substantial South Buffalo connections, but the majority of the district is in suburban West Seneca and Orchard Park, which probably is not prime Trump-base territory these days.
- There won’t be a McMurray/Collins debate for one simple reason – his criminal lawyers would need to keep interrupting to explain why he can’t answer questions.
- McMurray will be the underdog right through Election Day, but this is getting close.
- A McMurray win would simplify life for County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, who then won’t need to decide between a race for Congress and a race for county executive next year.
- You may or may not know it, but there is an election for United States Senator in New York this year, with incumbent Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand facing off against Republican Chele Farley. I wonder how many Democrats in Western New York have ever in ten years seen Senator Gillibrand in person at an event. Ever met her? Say what you will about Chuck Schumer, but he certainly knows where Western New York is. Gillibrand, by the way, is evidently stockpiling her campaign funds for a presidential run. Wow!
- There is only second hand information available for us upstaters about the competitive State Senate races on Long Island and in New York City, but it sounds like Democratic control is a real possibility, even without Democrat-in-name-only Senator Simcha Felder.
- So if (or more likely, when) Nick Langworthy is elected New York State Republican chairman he will have a great opportunity to show his talents, since the party will hold control of nothing in state government. As Bob Dylan sang, “when you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose,” so it can only get better for the state Republicans.
- Among the multitude of political emails that I have been receiving from all sides (“donate $3,” “triple-match,” “need 67 more donors from New York now”), I received one from Karin Housley, Republican candidate for United States senator from Minnesota. She is the Republican who compared Michelle Obama to a chimp. Ms. Housley’s appeal was headlined “3 points, 20 days.” She was referring to a poll which she claims had her down 3 points with 20 days to go before the election. So I got to thinking. Her husband, Sabres coach Phil Housley, managed his team to a last place finish in the NHL in the 2017-18 season. The team had a total of 62 points for the season, which was 189 days long, which turns out to be an average of – 3 points every 20 days. May she be as successful as her husband!
- The Erie County Legislature approved a resolution last week that called on Chairman Peter Savage to remove Jerry Schad as a member of the Erie County Water Authority. Savage declined to do so. The action would have only been for show anyway, since Schad will be leaving in less than six months when his term is up. The Legislature loves “for show” resolutions. If they wanted to really make a statement about the Authority they could have passed a resolution eliminating the $22,500 annual stipend that members of the Authority collect. Or they could have started the process of getting the Authority’s bonded debt paid off so that it could be shut down and rolled into county government.
- The Buffalo Niagara Coalition for Open Government does some great work highlighting how local governments and agencies ignore laws that are intended to improve transparency of government operations. Their latest study, “Behind Closed Doors, Executive Sessions & the Public’s Right to Know” can be found under Reports — Executive Sessions Report 2018 at their website: www.nyopengov.org. Sunlight, the expression goes, is the best disinfectant. The Coalition produces a lot of sunlight.
- Speaking of sunlight, how are those enrollment numbers coming at Erie Community College?
- The City of Lockport is having an election for mayor this year to fill the last year of a four-year term following a previous mayor’s resignation. The Lockport Union-Sun & Journal is sponsoring a debate this Wednesday at the Lockport Public Library at 5:30 pm. Don’t plan to attend, however, unless you were one of the 50 people who applied in person for a ticket to the event. It will be very exclusive; consider all the meanings of that word. Ah, democracy in action!