The excitement of the local political scene just keeps on rolling. And the fun will not stop on the day of the congressional primary, August 23rd.
As a non-Republican/Conservative observer, hopefully I can be forgiven for enjoying the entertainment value of two major powerhouses battling it out over the Republican congressional nomination. The combatants, Carl Paladino and Nick Langworthy, we are told, were once and recently friends and allies in the Trump cause. Political ambition can do that to folks.
While mostly avoiding being seen by the general public, Paladino is hoping that his previous incendiary comments will not do any more damage than the have already done. Except for Carl’s Langworthy attack commercials, his TV ad presentations are designed to be calm and reassuring. Wondering why there are no appearances by any family members in the ads.
Langworthy started with a general ad touting his work as the Republican leader. Lately he has been letting the American Liberty Action PAC, a shadowy fundraiser involved this year in only two races, do most of his (uncoordinated, we assume) talking; he recently added a new spot of his own . As of August 15th, OpenSecrets reported that PAC had spent $690,630 bashing Paladino. Many of the citations in the ads appear to be from op-research from his 2010 run for governor. The attack ads thus far do not get into Paladino’s admiration for Hitler, or his commentaries that most voters would view as racist. The PAC has also, BTW, spent $14,153 on positive ads for Langworthy.
There have been exchanges between the candidates about their connections to Trump. Langworthy is correct that his ads do not say that he is endorsed by Trump, but why would Paladino let that fact get in the way of a good argument. Paladino questions Langworthy’s Trump creds and cites Nick’s support for Carl from 12 years ago; the ad includes a cameo photo appearance by former Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan!
Question: what are the candidates’ stands on the issues of the day?
From a Politics and Other Stuff post on August 2nd: “Langworthy is your basic establishment Republican.” Enter Michael Caputo, who on August 10th told the Buffalo News: “There is no possibility President Trump would endorse an establishment politician…” Hmm! I guess that seals the “Langworthy is the establishment candidate” analysis.
The thing about this political fight is that it is getting much worse as we approach primary day. The New York Post described the campaign recently as a “civil war.” More importantly, however, it has the distinct possibility of spilling over beyond that date and doing real damage. Think of the final scenes in the movie Blazing Saddles where the fight between Hedley Lamarr and the folks of Rock Ridge spills over onto the sound stage of unrelated productions.
The Paladino-Langworthy fight will immediately, on August 24th, start to affect the political prospects of the Republican and Conservative parties’ candidates for state and local office. The possibility of the chairman of the state party losing a primary for Congress has already stirred some political challenges that will complicate the campaigns of the statewide office seekers. Do they like Carl or Nick? Do they agree with Paladino’s contentious history? Should Nick leave the chairmanship, and if so, when?
Local Republican and Conservative leadership haven’t been doing too well lately. Their bungled efforts to remove Chris Collins from the congressional ballot in 2018 started the ball rolling. Erie Republicans supported the eventual replacement, Chris Jacobs, but Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo was with a loser in that primary, Beth Parlato.
Last year both the Republican and Conservative leadership supported Karen Healy-Case for Erie County sheriff, who lost to John Garcia. That left political wounds.
And now you have Karl Simmeth and Ralph Lorigo in Langworthy’s corner. Another loss will certainly add political damage to the previous primary failures. The animosity on both sides will not be just simply set aside.
If Langworthy were to win the primary, would Paladino support him in November? That’s hard to imagine.
If Paladino wins, Langworthy, as state chairman, would have no choice about supporting Paladino, but that sort of support might be dismissed as not needed and not accepted.
Would the series of losses lead to a change in local parties’ leadership? Lots and lots of questions, but no answers that will settle things down.
Not to complicate things too much, but one more question: will Carl support Lorigo’s son, County Legislator Joe Lorigo, in his campaign for state Supreme Court?
The Republican primary for Congress in NY23 will be a very low turnout election. The voters may be primaried-out, and the attack ads are not the sort of thing that gets people marching to the polls. A turnout on the lower end of a 10-15 percent range of eligible voters makes it likely mostly that the Trumpiest of the party core will show up. They will be inclined to Carl.
The only public poll in the race so far had it at a statistical tie. Paladino criticized the pollster, Barry Zeplowitz, for being biased toward Langworthy because of a $99 contribution to Nick.
I’ve known Zeplowitz for so long that he was a Democrat when we first met. His work is professional and straight-forward. But even Zeplowitz noted to the Buffalo News that handicapping a low-turnout election is a difficult proposition.
With a week to go, Paladino has the resources to dwarf Langworthy’s efforts. The latest filings with the Federal Election Commission show Carl with $911,366 in the campaign treasury; he raised $12,960 but also loaned his committee $1.5 million. Carl has his checkbook in his pocket if needed. Nick only raised $62,989 since the end of June and had a balance of $139,880 as of August 11.
Paladino is the likely winner in this election, but the aftershocks will continue in the Republican and Conservative parties after August 23. For those who enjoy a good political show, you better buy more popcorn.
Early voting is underway and continues through Sunday, August 21. Here are links to locations and hours in Erie County EARLYVOTING 2022 AUG latest.pdf (erie.gov) and Niagara County Microsoft Word – Early voting PF22 (niagara.ny.us). For those eligible voters in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben counties in the new 23rd district, check with those counties’ Boards of Elections for early voting details.
And for those living in Tom Reed’s old 23rd district, don’t forget to vote for Max Della Pia in the special election.
Follow me on Twitter @kenkruly