As politics in Western New York go, things are quiet. Unless, of course, you are a candidate running in a primary election in three weeks or a member of that candidate’s team. For you the finish line is in sight and there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get things done.
Here are some facts, observations, and heard-on-the-streets:
- So never mind, we really didn’t think that the nation would default. The national media whipped itself into a frenzy about the possible cataclysmic disaster that was about to occur. Congress, being Congress, postured and debated, but in the end did what it has always done – extend the national debt limit. They even did it four days early. For all their bluster the Republicans did nothing to advance their agenda of things like a balanced budget or significant changes in social programs. President Joe Biden once again proved his mastery of the legislative process.
- Progressive Democrats railed against the approved package, but the answer to their complaint is obvious – the Republicans are running the show in the House. The answer for those Democrats is to elect more Democrats to Congress.
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is taking his show on the road. He’s even taking swings at some unnamed opponent who is not conservative enough or didn’t fire Dr. Fauci. The guessing is he is referring to Donald Trump. The robot from Tallahassee seems afraid to tackle that obstacle standing right in front of him.
- The Republican field is about to get more crowded, but this time, unlike in 2016, most of them will fade away before the snow melts in Iowa or New Hampshire next winter. DeSantis might still be standing along with just one of two others. The difference between 2016 and 2024 is that Trump now comes equipped with a large base of totality committed Republicans, a fact that is well known by the other candidates and will ultimately scare most of them away.
- Included in the roster of Republican presidential hopefuls is Vivek Ramaswamy, a very rich right wing candidate, who says he expects to be among the leading contenders as the campaign proceeds. Former Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw was recently appointed deputy communications director for Ramaswamy.
- The New York State Legislature is wrapping up its 2023 session this week, allowing members to get back to whatever they will be doing during the second half of the year. It is looking like they will significantly weaken the program to publicly fund state elections, scheduled to become operational next year. Making large donations eligible for some matching public money and raising the threshold to qualify a candidate for that money will help incumbents, although it seems probable that the availability of public money will still attract more candidates than might run without that option. It remains to be seen what the real consequences of public funding will be.
- Democratic primaries for five seats on the Buffalo Common Council are, to the average observer not living in one of those districts, almost invisible. Media coverage is very limited. Door-to-door canvassing along with mailings and door-to-door lit drops will have to carry the day.
- The most interesting of those primaries will be in the Masten District, where no incumbent is running. Party-endorsed Zeneta Everhart is facing off against former mayoral candidate India Walton. There are a lot of party and elected officials supporting Everhart, while Walton has a campaign team that showed it knew how to win a citywide primary in 2021. In that election Walton lost to Mayor Byron Brown in Masten by a margin of 530 votes (16 percent) out of 3,374 cast. In the general election Brown, as the write-in candidate, won Masten by 157 votes (2 percent) with the total number of votes nearly double the number cast in the primary.
- The race for the Republican and Conservative nominations in the Erie County Legislature’s 10th District is becoming incredibly aggressive and expensive. The “truce” between the two parties is now more like a Mixed Martial Arts match. Tens of thousands of dollars will be spent by both sides for a two-year legislative seat that pays $42,588 annually.
- The next campaign financial reports are due on June 11 but that will not show the full picture. The full cost of challenger Lindsay Lorigo’s employment of Big Dog Strategies (the firm that guided George Santos to victory last year) might not be known until after the votes have been counted. Family money will play a big part in this campaign. The limit for family contributions for a seat on the County Legislature is the “total number of enrolled voters in the candidate’s party in the district, excluding voters in inactive status, multiplied by $0.25, but at least $1,250, and no more than $100,000.” The Erie County Board of Elections contains no information on their website reporting on the number of registered Republicans and Conservatives in the 10th District, so there is no way of knowing what the family contribution limits are in the 10th District.
- As former Legislator and newly elected State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Lorigo was wrapping up his campaign financials he reportedly donated thousands of dollars to the Erie County and/or State Conservative Party. Look for the party to be actively involved in spending on behalf of his wife’s campaign for the legislative seat.
- With all the discussion about such things as ChatGPT I thought it would be interesting to try things out in preparing a blog post. I asked for a report on the 2023 Common Council races. It produced a document with some general comments about campaign issues such as crime and economic development. Concerning candidates’ activities, it reported that Barbara Miller-Williams was running in District 1. Ms. Williams, the current Buffalo Comptroller, was the County Legislature’s 1st District member in years gone by. A second request about the 2023 County Executive election reported on the activities of the Republican candidate Lynne Dixon, who actually was the party’s candidate in 2019. Oh well.
- We have been reading a lot in Buffalo Bills’ reporting about quarterback Josh Allen’s intense focus on the upcoming season. He talks about it. So does Coach Sean McDermott. It’s confusing. Does all the chatter mean that he wasn’t really focused during the 2022 season?
- Baseball seems to be doing well with the rules chances that move games along quicker, knocking 20-30 minutes off the time of the average game. Some tweaking of football’s rules should also be in order. Maybe just limit the number of ads for the gambling sites to no more than 20 per game.