With just over one week to go before primary day things are really heating up in the Republican Party race for Erie County sheriff.
The John Garcia campaign has had some hard-hitting attacks recently, including a shot at County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw for releasing a report criticizing Garcia about a contract with a company he is associated with that provides security services for the county. (The work went through standard county purchasing procedures and was properly approved. Garcia has said he will remove himself from the county business relationship if he is elected sheriff). Mychajliw is a contributor to Garcia’s opponent, Karen Healy-Case.
Yesterday Garcia held a press conference in front of the Sheriff’s Office. He revealed information gathered through a Freedom of Information Law request regarding the role of Healy-Case in a matter concerning attorney Anne Adams’ DWI arrest in 2008. That matter indirectly resulted in Supreme Court Justice Joseph Makowski leaving the bench some time later. Here is an excerpt from the Garcia press statement:
On September 2, 2008, at approximately 19:43, Anne Adams was arrested for aggravated DWI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level nearly two and a half times the legal limit. After the arrest, Ms. Adams conspired with Karen Healy-Case as to what her next steps should be to avoid imminent prosecution. In an affidavit, Karen Healy-Case, who was not present at the time of the arrest, objected to the findings of the law enforcement officer who made the initial stop of Ms. Adams and asked her to perform the roadside sobriety tests. Karen Healy-Case felt in her “experience” that there was no way Ms. Adams could have provided a chemical breathalyzer BAC of .19%, nearly 250% over the legal limit. Karen Healy-Case’s assessment was based on an incoming phone call from Ms. Adams less than approximately two hours from the initial stop and just an hour before a blood sample was taken at Mercy Hospital.
The Healy-Case campaign has been playing up her endorsements by Michael Caputo; a Grand Island town board member; the entire Eden town board; former Assemblyman Ray Walter; the Republican and Conservative Parties members of the Erie County Legislature – all four of them; and Healy-Case’s mother (in a TV commercial). The influence of those individuals on Republican voters could be out-weighed by Garcia’s endorsements by Sheriff Tim Howard; Senator (and former Sheriff) Pat Gallivan; the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association; and a prominent gun organization. And is Congressman Chris Jacobs also involved? A member of his staff, Mitch Martin, is acting as the media contact for the Garcia campaign.
Prior to recent developments there has been some interesting behind the scenes political maneuvering. Garcia substantially out-raised Healey-Case in the January BOE campaign filings, which apparently made it more difficult for Republicans to coalesce their support around her. The Conservative Party stepped in. Instead of running a placeholder attorney as their candidate for sheriff, waiting for Republicans to sort things out as they have done in other elections, the Conservatives endorsed Healey-Case before she had the Republican endorsement locked up. The strategy worked with the Republicans for the endorsement but it potentially leaves the Conservatives in an awkward position should Garcia defeat Healy-Case in the Republican primary.
Combine all the above noted activities with Garcia’s well-funded effort and you have the makings of an upset in the Republican primary for sheriff. If that happens there could be some post-primary consequences for both the Republicans and the Conservatives. This is, as they say on the networks, a developing story. Stay tuned.
Early voting starts on Saturday, June 12. Here is information about early voting locations in Erie County:
Follow me on Twitter @kenkruly