Grant projected as big winner in 2017 — updated

The 32-day pre-general election campaign financial reports were due on October 6th and they show Grant as a clear winner in 2017. No, not County Legislator and former mayoral candidate Betty Jean Grant. I’m referring to Chris Collins alumnus and current political consultant Chris Grant.

There are still four weeks to go in the 2017 election cycle. In many cases the elections are already effectively over, including the Mayor of Buffalo and all City of Buffalo, Erie County and State Supreme Court judicial offices. The races that are continuing include three Erie Countywide offices and just four of the eleven County Legislature seats. Despite the lack of public interest in any of the contested offices, the parties, meetings, League of Women Voters Forums, and get-out-the-vote efforts are continuing.

Most of all, however, there is the campaign spending – spending that in many cases is substantial. Spending that in many cases is of questionable value when it comes to actually affecting the results of the elections.

Chris Grant developed his brochure-writing and other political skills as a young aide to County Executive candidate Chris Collins ten years ago. Since then, following a period on Collins’ congressional payroll, Grant has earned his living through political consulting work. He has been doing work in other parts of the country, but his local ties have also proved lucrative.

So far in 2017 Grant’s Big Dog Strategies firm has collected some big money, including:

  • $84,890 from County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw’s re-election campaign
  • $40,500 from Hamburg Supervisor candidate Dennis Gaughan, a registered Democrat who lost the Democratic primary to Jim Shaw, but who, courtesy of a Republican Wilson-Pakula permission slip, remains on the ballot in November
  • $15,000 from County Surrogate Court candidate Acea Mosey
  • $3,500 from County Legislator Joseph Lorigo

There will likely be a lot more Grants (the President that is, who appears on the $50 bill) moving toward Chris Grant before the polls close in November. We’ll keep you up to date.

Short summaries of the latest campaign filings

Mayor Byron Brown. The Mayor is still technically a candidate and continues to file reports. His latest shows a balance of $135,126, with the largest recent expenditures for fundraising activities.

Erie County Comptroller. Stefan Mychajliw’s treasury at the moment shows a balance of just $20,825 after the payment of $84,890 to Grant for TV ads. Additional fundraising is underway. The Democratic candidate for Comptroller, Vanessa Glushefski, has $49,979. One of the highlights of the campaign thus far seems to be Mychajliw’s reporting on the bed bug issue in the Rath Building. The accountants you employ, Stefan, are supposed to be bean-counters, not bug-counters. Glushefski has criticized the incumbent for failing to detect the overbilling of county phone charges.

Erie County Clerk. The race to fill the final year of former Clerk Chris Jacobs’ term has State Assemblyman Mickey Kearns, a registered Democrat running as a Republican, challenging Democrat Steve Cichon. Since there are only so many ways that you can talk about DMV registrations, the campaign at the moment is featuring competing comments about abortion. Heading into the final four weeks of the election, Kearns has $62,797 available to spend. Cichon has $27,710.

Erie County Sheriff. The contest between Republican incumbent Tim Howard and Democrat Bernie Tolbert has been getting rough, with Howard aggressively challenging Tolbert’s professional and personal history and Tolbert strongly questioning Howard’s ability to manage the county’s Holding Center and Correctional Facility in light of more than twenty deaths in those locations over the past several years. (Editor’s note:  Sheriff Howard has commented on this observation. See his comment above.) Look for the campaigns to get even tougher as the charges fly.

Howard is already on TV with his spots, costing $80,000, and reported an account balance of $84,467 as of last week. Tolbert had $62,965 but he has not yet begun his media effort.

Erie County Legislature. Here is quick summary of campaign account balances for the four elections where there are both Democratic and Republican candidates:

  • 5th District. Incumbent Democrat Tom Loughran has $3,907 in his account. Republican Guy Marlette’s report shows a balance of $28,341.
  • 8th District. Incumbent Republican Ted Morton has $18,069 available; Democrat John Bruso $19,269.
  • 9th District. Incumbent Lynn Dixon has a balance of $44,497, while Democrat Michael Quinn reported $20,664. Rumors are circulating that Dixon might want an appointment in the County Clerk’s Office if Kearns is elected.
  • 10th District. Incumbent Joe Lorigo’s report shows a balance of $124,944. He loaned his Committee $20,000 on September 30th and gave $25,000 to the Erie County Republican Committee.  Democrat Michelle Schoeneman has $38,391, normally a pretty good tally for a non-incumbent County Legislature candidate. Lorigo, however, will still greatly outspend her.

Erie County Surrogate Court Judge. Acea Mosey had this election wrapped up a long time ago but nonetheless she raised a huge campaign treasury to help keep other potential candidates out of the race. With her name on all party lines, Mosey has already taken care of a requirement of state law, the refunding of donations not needed by the judicial campaign.

Mosey appears to have refunded 82.56 percent of what she raised, returning a total of $355,000 to donors. A like amount was used to repay a portion of the loans she provided to her campaign, leaving a loan balance of $95,000. Her campaign account has a balance of $18,093, which means that most of her remaining outstanding loan to the campaign will wind up as an in-kind contribution to the effort.

Speaking of Chris Grant

As noted, Chris Grant’s political work extends beyond Western New York. Recently the New York Times reported that Grant is teaming up with political operative Michael Caputo and political bad boy Steve Bannon to promote the candidacy of ex-con Michael Grimm, who will challenge current Congressman and former District Attorney Daniel Donovan for a seat in New York City next year. This is part of Bannon’s effort to destroy the Republican Party establishment.

Grimm formerly held the congressional seat but left Congress after a federal court conviction; he served seven months in prison. Among Grimm’s major achievements in Congress was his threat to throw a reporter over a balcony.

Grimm’s federal conviction concerned felony tax fraud, so I assume that he probably would not get a seat on the House Ways and Means Committee (which handles tax issues) if he were to be elected, but then again, we are talking about something under the control of Paul Ryan. Yuck.

What if they gave an election and nobody came?

Tuesday’s primary elections were some of the most anticlimactive political events that I have ever seen – a very boring day. It was like Erie County voters collectively sighed, “whatever!”

The race for Mayor of Buffalo in the Democratic primary seemed pre-ordained for a long time. Mark Schroeder and Betty Jean Grant gave spirited efforts. Schroeder’s TV ads were very well done and he put the best effort into telling voters what he would do in the next four years. For the most part Schroeder and Grant’s attacks on Mayor Brown’s record were professional and controlled. Continue reading

Planning to spend money you don’t have

An “Another Voice” article in a recent edition of the Buffalo News poses a serious, important and often overlooked view about the grand scheme of public issues: what is being proposed would be great, but where would the money come from?

The subject in question is the proposal from local thinker Kevin Gaughan to redevelop the Delaware Park Golf Course, relocate the golf course in South Park and restore the South Park Arboretum. Both parks were part of Frederick Law Olmsted’s grand design for an inter-connected park system in Buffalo. Continue reading

July campaign financial reports are filed; speculation about Western District federal appointments

July 15th was the deadline for political committees in New York State to file their periodic financial reports. Committees involved with an active election campaign this year will be required to file several additional 2017 reports starting in August.

Compared with past experience, the election campaigns that are being fought this year are publicly pretty mild. The work of collecting and filing nominating petitions is complete. Organizing fundraisers and getting voter recruitment and get-out-the-vote programs set up is, or at least should be, well underway and mostly out of view of the general public that is not much interested in local political things in the middle of July. Here are the financial highlights of the major local campaigns to date. Continue reading