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

Four weeks until primary day.  It’s a win-or-go- home campaign for mayor.  The county comptroller’s race will not have a primary, so it’s on to November.  The sheriff’s race continues to be muddled.  ECC looks to hire a new president.  January 6th deniers once and still!

Here are some facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets:

  • Candidates involved in primary elections were required to file financial reports with the state Board of Elections on May 21.  The Board has shown no interest in cleaning up the mess they created when they switched to a new reporting system in January.  Information is available in a technical sense, but whatever you may be looking for is your basic needle-in-a-haystack search.  Summary information is easier to find.  Details are more of a challenge.
  • In the race for Mayor of Buffalo in the Democratic primary, Mayor Byron Brown raised $178,620 since January and has $274,469 in the bank; his report appeared on the state BOE website on May 27.  His opponent, India Walton, collected $83,661 ($94,949 altogether thus far), with $53,296 remaining in her treasury.
  • Walton keeps plugging away with some earned media efforts and Twitter commentary.  She has a cadre of hard-working supporters including Students4India.  Phone calls are being made.  I received one recently; I live in Amherst.  She can continue to raise money, but the amount available as of May 17 is meager for a campaign for mayor.  What she doesn’t have is any burning citywide issue that will drive Democrats to the polls to vote for her on June 22.  Given various real and perceived grievances against a 15-year incumbent, Walton is likely to draw at least 30 percent of the vote.  Going higher will require a spark that is not evident at the moment.  There is a third candidate, LaCandice Durham, but I have not noticed any visible campaign going on there.
  • There were, as of February 2021, 106,417 registered Democrats in the City of Buffalo.  Expect a turnout in the range of 20 to 25 percent, meaning that between 21,000 and 27,000 Buffalonians will select the next mayor in the June 22nd Democratic Party primary election.  Why aren’t any of the TV or radio stations or the Buffalo News sponsoring a debate between Brown and Walton?
  • The race for county comptroller got simpler when the state Appellate Division invalidated the petitions of Hormoz Mansouri, overruling a decision of Supreme Court Justice Dennis Ward.  The problem, the court determined, was that the petitions were “permeated with fraud.”  Affidavits filed with the court noted that several people whose signatures appeared on the petitions did not sign the petitions.  The court did not hold Mansouri responsible for the fraud.
  • Mansouri paid $11,471 to an organization with a White Plains, New York address named “Engage Voters US.”  A Google search shows nothing for the organization.  Reports on the street indicated that political activist Maurice Garner was involved in the petition gathering project.  Witnesses to the petitions included some folks with connections to former Democratic Chairman Steve Pigeon.  Petitioners included Louis Turchiarelli, Clarence Lott, and Joseph Mascia.  Other witnesses, some of whom only submitted a handful of petitions, included Hamburg supervisor candidate Robert Reynolds; Thomas Best Jr.; and Betty Jean Grant.
  • So it’s on to November for Democrat Kevin Hardwick and Republican Lynne Dixon in the race for comptroller.
  • The sheriff’s race still has at least six contenders.  In the Democratic primary endorsed candidate Brian Gould has raised $57,818 so far and has $21,333 remaining; Kim Beaty raised $33,614 with $18,851 still in the bank; Myles Carter collected $4,604 with $1,943 in hand.
  • In the Republican primary endorsed candidate Karen Healy-Case’s campaign raised $149,463 during the past four months, with $119,305 remaining as of May 17; the BOE posted her report on May 28.  She has already spent $45,352 on right-wing TV network ads.  John Garcia filed a report showing that he raised $55,925 since January and has $147,782 available.  Beyond the report that was due on May 21, he already filed a report that is due on June 11, showing some similar information.  There seems to be some sort of filing mix-up in that campaign.
  • Independent candidate for sheriff, Ted DiNoto, is not involved in a primary and was not required to file a financial report at this time.
  • The Board of Trustees at SUNY Erie is getting ready to select a new president.  Bill Reuter has been the interim president since last summer. 
  • A previous post reported on serious enrollment and financial problems.  Hopefully the new president will keep Reuter on board to assist in identifying and working through those problems.
  • The two finalists are Dr. Tracy Johnson and Dr. Kirk Young.  Johnson is from Dallas but had previous experience at UB and Buffalo State.  Young is presently at Jamestown Community College, having also worked at a university in Utah.  The background information on the candidates does not indicate any significant experience in college financial matters.  What the two know about ECC’s problems will hopefully be identified as final interviews take place.
  • According to some familiar with the search process, the SUNY administration in Albany has taken a great interest in the hiring.  Given her more substantial SUNY connections, look for Dr. Johnson to be selected as the next president.
  • Hopefully SUNY’s interest extends to helping SUNY Erie and the other community colleges in Western New York come to grips with the declining enrollment and related financial issues.  A SUNY push for some form of regional consolidation of the four colleges should be a high priority.
  • Finally, some comments about Trumplican Party resistance to the creation of federal commission to investigate and report on the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol.  Kevin McCarthy, Mitch McConnell and nearly all other elected Republicans and party officials are against the commission.  They are throwing up smoke screens, but it is obvious that the main reason for their opposition is the major problems such an investigation will bring to party politics in 2022.  Funny how they never had that problem when they hounded Hillary Clinton with endless hearings about Benghazi.
  • Congressman Chris Jacobs voted in favor of the commission, but it should never be forgotten that he supported invalidating 2020 election results in his January 6th vote objecting to certain state tallies.
  • It should also be noted that Republican-Conservative nominee-designate for governor of New York, Congressman Lee Zeldin, continued his Trumpian devotion by voting against the January 6th commission.

Meanwhile, in lighter news, Rudy Guiliani descendent and Trump golf partner Andrew Guiliani has joined the race for governor.  That one should be fun to watch.  Rudy’s 35 year-old son has already been chided for claiming he’s been involved in politics for parts of 5 decades.  He’s reportedly a good golfer, but that means that he only needs to count into the 70s.  The state’s annual budget number is in the twelve digits range.  That could be a challenge for Andrew.