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

The New York State political calendar being what it is there isn’t much of a respite from the high tension, exaggerated drama political action.  Petitions go out for 2022 in late February.  At least the holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day slows things down a bit.

Here are some facts, observations and heard-on-the-street items as Campaign 2021 closes out and Campaign 2022 revs up:

  • The list of candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor is up to four now, with Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi joining the field.  Suozzi also ran in the 2006 primary, which he lost to Elliott Spitzer 82 percent to 18 percent.  Suozzi seems to be trying to occupy the (Andrew) Cuomo lane in the primary, whatever that may be.
  • With two Brooklynites (Letitia James and Jumanne Williams) already in the contest, and a third, NYC Mayor Bill deBlasio, considering an upstate tour in January, the Kathy Hochul campaign team can almost be heard privately cheering.  Three NYC candidates would split up the vote in the city; so would two.
  • It would seem that James and Williams are more or less in the same campaign lane so one of them will need to bow out.  That will be Williams.
  • Suozzi made an appearance for Byron Brown during the mayoral election.  Williams supported India Walton.  Hochul and James remained neutral.  So the question is, will Brown return the favor by supporting Suozzi or, like most Erie County Democratic elected officials and party leaders, will he support favorite daughter Kathy Hochul?  Or will he just be too busy running the city to get involved?
  • Aside from the fact that Hochul has been consistently leading published horse race polling by comfortable margins (too early to get too excited about that), she has also been piling up support from county organizations and elected officials.
  • The nominating convention of the state Democratic Committee is just about ten weeks away and it would appear that Hochul has a good shot at receiving the support of more than fifty percent of the Committee.  If that happens one of the other candidates (likely James) will get at least twenty-five percent of the Committee votes.  That would then require any other candidate to prepare statewide petitions to get on the June 28th primary ballot.
  • There are now five announced Democratic candidates for attorney general to replace James, with five more in the hunt.  The announced candidates are:  former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman; State Senator Shelley Mayer; law professor Zephyr Teachout; former state Financial Services Commissioner Maria Vullo; and State Senator Cycle Vanel.  There is no clear cut leader of the group at this time.
  • Congressman Lee Zeldin continues as the presumptive Republican candidate for governor.  Where are you Andrew Guiliani?
  • The next campaign filing report is due on January 15th and it is a requirement for all political committees in the state.  Hochul has already announced that she raised $10 million between August and November.  It is a good bet that she will be ahead of the other candidates when the January 15th reports are delivered.
  • The final campaign financial reports for 2021 were due to be filed with the State Board of Elections on November 27th.  Compliance with the law is very good but not universal.
  • As of December 6th, nine days past the deadline, 1st District Erie County Legislator Howard Johnson has not filed the November 27th report.  In fact, Johnson also failed to file the required reports that were due on October 1 and October 22.
  • Defeated Hamburg Supervisor candidate Stefan Mychajliw does not yet have his November 27th report on record.
  • Democratic candidate for mayor India Walton’s final financial report includes another $58,345 in donations where the name and address of donors and the amounts they donated are not documented.  That brings the total of undocumented donations to Walton in 2021 to $358,672.  The lack of transparency award for campaign financial reporting in 2021 goes to India Walton.
  • Defeated County Comptroller candidate Lynne Dixon did file her report on a timely basis.  It showed that she spent $75,039 with Big Dog Strategies which produced the negative campaign mailers that tanked her campaign; she lost by 16,885 votes.  At least Big Dog had a good November.
  • Big Dog also had a hand in Stefan Mychajliw’s losing campaign for supervisor, the amount of which is not yet known; nonetheless Stefan will be joining Chris Grant’s team in January.  The losing Republican candidate in County Legislature District 9, Frank Bogulski, was reportedly a Big Dog client.  Re-elected Legislator Joe Lorigo Paid Big Dog $14,070.  So for those keeping score at home, the numbers are:  four local Republican/Conservative candidates, 1 win in a lightly contested race; Big Dog Strategies, $89,109 and counting.
  • Also concerning Big Dog Strategies, their website indicates that former Democratic operative Steve Casey is still part of the team.  Casey has been in the news recently for his shenanigans involving state senate candidate Chuck Swanick in 2012.  The story concerns cheating Swanick out of campaign funds.  Strange, I thought they were friends.
  • Democratic chair Jeremy Zellner originally supported Brown for mayor but backed Walton after the primary; now Zellner has Mayor Brown for the next four years.   Walton supporters might run for some county committee seats.  Nonetheless Zellner is secure in his position.
  • The Republican chairman, Karl Simmeth, lost the major primary his party was involved in when the endorsed candidate for sheriff, Karen Healy-Case, was defeated by John Garcia.  The opposing camps in that election are reportedly still not making nice. 
  • The Conservative Party also got involved in the sheriff’s primary fight on the losing side.  There is now talk on the streets about a potential challenge to chairman Ralph Lorigo, perhaps involving the gun-loving 1791 Society.  That’s probably a long shot (pun intended).  The county’s Working Families Party has a chair most folks have never heard of which seems appropriate considering the local party seems to actually be run out of the state headquarters in New York City.
  • Redrawn legislative districts for Congress, the State Legislature and local bodies including County Legislatures and City Councils will be due soon.
  • The new congressional and state legislative districts need to be in place in the next eight or so weeks, which presents a problem for the timeline the state Redistricting Commission is following.  The Commission needs to file a recommendation which will then be rejected by the Democratic controlled Legislature.  The Legislature likely has their own version of the maps in the drawer and ready to go.
  • The state lost one congressional seat.  The configuration of two districts in Western New York presently held by Brian Higgins and Chris Jacobs will change.  The chopped up district of retiring Tom Reed figures into the equation.
  • We currently have at least a couple WNY state legislative districts that were drawn in a contorted manner in 2012 when the Legislature still had a Republican majority in the State Senate and the Albany folks were working to preserve favorable territory for incumbents so some state districts will look somewhat different.
  • The Niagara County Legislature has already approved their new districts and the Erie County Legislature is moving along with the process.  City Councils also need to draw new lines.  It’s not likely that there will be any significant changes coming out of those processes.
  • Okay, now go back to your Christmas shopping.