The collateral damage of Wilson’s withdrawal from the gubernatorial race; if you’re explaining, you’re losing; a chance to have a say about Buffalo’s next budget

Farewell, Harry, we hardly knew ‘ya

Last week’s news that Republican businessman Harry Wilson will pass on the opportunity to run for governor certainly has serious consequences for the Republican Party. State Chairman Ed Cox convened a meeting of party leaders on Monday in Albany to interview the remaining potential GOP nominees: former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra; Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb; and State Senator John DeFrancisco. Aside from the interviews, the party is trying to figure out where it is going. The New York Daily News story about the meeting made use of such words as “panic,” “desperate,” and “depressing.” Continue reading

How the suburban wave might play into New York’s 2018 races

As the dust settles from Doug Jones’ stunning upset victory in the Alabama Senate race, inquiring minds are wondering just how much the factors in that race and others in 2017 might figure into races in New York State in 2018.

On the surface, there does not presently appear to be much happening in next year’s local state legislative races. You can’t beat somebody with nobody. On the other hand, there are now four potential Democratic challengers to Chris Collins in the mix. Continue reading

Two versions of taxes, budgets and fiscal responsibility; some facts and heard-on-the-streets; Grant tops Langworthy

The United States Senate this past Friday completed its version of their so-called tax reform legislation. The 500 page bill was prepared entirely by the Republican Majority in the Senate; no Democrats allowed. It was approved in the dead of night, with last minute amendments hand-written illegibly in some cases. Lobbyists had copies of the bill before senators did. The legislation will increase the national debt by one trillion dollars over the next ten years. Continue reading

Campaign 2018 is right around the corner

In the next few days we will see the final documents of Election 2017, the post-election financial reports. Next up – federal and state elections, with a couple Erie County campaigns thrown in too.

The statewide campaigns will be the main focus, with the race for governor featured – or maybe not. Heading into his third gubernatorial campaign, Andrew Cuomo has lost the luster of a newcomer and has morphed into the role of defender of the administration record. Reports are that the 2019 state budget that Cuomo will file in January has billions of dollars of holes to fill. There are complaints about how the state manages the subway system in New York City. Continue reading

Closing the books on the 2017 election

The numbers are in.  There are bragging rights for both parties. Here are a few observations about the 2017 elections:

  • The Republicans held on to what they had, with wins by Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard and Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw. They will fill the County Clerk’s Office for the completion of former Republican Clerk Chris Jacobs’ term by electing Mickey Kearns. There will be another race for that office next year for a full four-year term.
  • Howard’s margin of victory (51-49) was very small.
  • Kearns’ margin was also small (4 percent) while Mychajliw’s margin (10 percent) was the best of the countywide group.
  • None on the countywide victors ran anywhere near what was projected in private polling.
  • The election turnout was better than expected, but still an anemic 35 percent.  The turnout in Buffalo was just 27 percent.  If the Buffalo turnout had just matched the suburban and rural turnouts it is likely that both Bernie Tolbert and Steve Cichon would have been elected.  It wasn’t too long ago that turnouts of about 60 percent in local elections were common.
  • The Democrats won control of the County Legislature with impressive wins by Tom Loughran and John Bruso. Guy Marlette substantially outspent Loughran and used a lot of his campaign funds in a highly negative campaign, but it did not work.  Ted Morton also ran an incredibly negative campaign.
  • An ugly campaign also occurred in the 10th District when Joseph Lorigo was re-elected by a healthy margin. 
  • Democrats had some important victories in town elections. Jim Shaw will be the new Supervisor in Hamburg and Brian Kulpa will take over in Amherst Town Hall.
  • Republicans won three seats on the Hamburg Board but they lost the highway superintendent race.  Amherst will have an entire Democratic Board , with Democrats Jacqui Berger and  Shawn Lavin winning seats.
  • The Town of Tonawanda, under the Democratic Party leadership of John Crangle, once again elected all Democrats to Town offices.
  • Erin Baker raised $88,776 in her losing campaign for the Amherst Town Board. Of that amount, she transferred $30,750 to the Erie County Republican Committee which is chaired by her husband, Nick Langworthy. Transfers of funds to a County Committee from local candidates for things such as mailers and petitions are not unusual, but this is an extraordinary amount of money and obviously was not just for such things. Baker’s Amherst Council Republican running mate Joseph Spino, for example, only transferred $7,550 to the County Committee.
  • Oh yeah, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown was re-elected to a fourth term.
  • And oh yeah, several judges were elected without opposition.

That’s about it. The countywide turnout of 35 percent was better than the 25 percent in 2015 but still was not great. A review of the turnout by parties will show that the Democrats did substantially better than the Republicans in getting their people out.  That bodes well for 2018.

Elections, of course, provide bragging rights for political parties as well as candidates. There are two ways of looking at this year’s numbers.

Republicans won all the countywide offices, despite a huge Democratic enrollment edge. So yay for them.

But Democrats can and will claim that the Republicans already held all those offices and will point out the difficulty of removing incumbent non-executive officeholders in County Hall. There has only been one incumbent elected sheriff defeated in Erie County in more than fifty years. The last elected incumbent county comptroller to be defeated was in 1963.

So on to 2018. We could be in for a very competitive year for state offices. We could be in for a year where the Trumpification of the Republican campaigns might spread vitriolic campaigning from Buffalo to Montauk. The defeat of two Republican County Legislature candidates and the closeness of the countywide races may indicate that voters are turned off by the Trump negativity.  We’ll see.  The Trump-Bannon style was test-marketed here this year, but it came up short. Fasten your seat belts.

Heading into the home stretch — the final pre-election financial reports

The 2017 election is just a week away. Despite a generally very quiet campaign season, the TV ads are increasing and mailboxes are filling up with those oversized political postcards.

The candidates are spending lots of money but it will not translate into much voter enthusiasm. Look for a countywide turnout of less than 20 percent, with exceptions in the Towns of Amherst, Hamburg, Tonawanda and West Seneca. Continue reading