Some facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets; a quickie poll

With the incredibly exciting local primary elections now in the rear view mirror, political candidates can get down to the nitty gritty details of an election. In the summer time that means endless picnics, fundraisers, parades, etc. It is also a good time for serious campaigns to map out their strategy, targeting, and palm cards.

Here are some facts, rumors and comments on political goings-on and other stuff:

  • My previous blog discussed issues concerning the Diocese of Buffalo’s handling of matters involving abuse of children and others by members of the clergy. I made a point about the need for a process involving police and the justice system in the investigations of such issues.
  • Following the publication of that post a reader of the blog pointed out something that I was not aware of, which clarifies procedures of the Diocese in such matters. “For the past 16 years the Diocese has reported all prosecutable allegations of abuse directly to the District Attorney with jurisdiction over the offense regardless if the allegation was credible or not. This was done pursuant to a compact drafted by … [diocesan representatives] and the prosecutors and signed by Bishop Mansell in 2003. This has been communicated to the media on numerous occasions but never highlighted in broadcast or print media… In addition, whenever a report of abuse is made to the victim assistance coordinator, she advises and encourages the victim to report to law enforcement.  This too has been communicated to the media.  Don’t you think that fair and objective reporting should delineate those facts?” Speaking just for Politics and Other Stuff, the answer to that question is yes – and done.
  • The local Democratic primaries turned out as expected, but nonetheless it was a very successful election for Democratic headquarters with victories in Erie County Legislature District 1 (Howard Johnson); District 2 (April Baskin); and District 3 (Lisa Chimera); The Buffalo Common Council in the Lovejoy District (Brian Bollman); the Fillmore District (Mitchell Nowakowski); the Masten District (Ulysees Wingo); and the University District (Rasheed Wyatt).
  • Turnout was in the low teens, not much better than the numbers for school board elections.
  • The 2019 election year in Buffalo has effectively ended with the Common Council primaries. There are no contests to speak of in the City, which will likely mean incredibly low voter turnout in the biggest Democratic enrollment municipality in the county.
  • Which brings up something to think about: it has been suggested that turnout for Buffalo school board elections could be improved if those elections were held in November with other city general elections. The thing is, elections for city offices are almost nonexistent in November. To the extent there are any real races that happens in primaries. So the only real benefit of November school board elections is to save the cost of running May school board elections every three or five years. Generally speaking, voter turnout in the City of Buffalo is pathetic. November elections will not improve turnout for school board races in any significant way.
  • Which brings up this thought: in the interest of countywide candidates, why isn’t there some Democratic crash program to bring up turnout in Buffalo?
  • There was sure a lot of fuss among the local Democrats and Republicans and their minor party affiliates having to fend off minor party write-in and obscure candidate challenges to the preferred candidates of the D’s and R’s. Does everyone need to be reminded that politics ain’t beanbag?
  • There will be three State Supreme Court seats up for election this year in the 8th Judicial District. Incumbents Gerald Whelan, Diane Devlin and Deborah Haendiges are candidates for re-election. There apparently is still no agreement about cross endorsements for Whelan and Haendiges. A possible third Democratic candidate, Amherst Town Justice Kara Buscaglia, is making the rounds of political events, she says, at the suggestion of Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner. The judicial conventions to select the candidates will occur during the second week of August.
  • As Nick Langworthy moves on to the State Party Chairmanship, speculation continues about his potential replacement as Erie County Chairman. Names included in the mix include: Ray Walter, attorney and former State Assemblyman; Deputy County Comptroller Brian Fiume; Water Authority Secretary Joe Burns; and Erin Baker, regional director of the Assembly Minority Leader, and wife of Nick Langworthy. All are allies of Nick, but the edge there would go to Erin.
  • Erin was a work-study student in the Colleges Relations Department at Canisius College when I worked there. Her talent and experience really make her a good choice for chairwoman, nepotism aside.
  • Lynne Dixon’s campaign is bragging about the poll they commissioned that reports a neck-and-neck race against County Executive Mark Poloncarz. The Investigative Post has done a nice job of exposing that for the push-poll that it is. Its demographics breakdown is suspect. It is the type of poll that you would want if you could just make up the numbers.
  • Dixon had more than $200,000 in the bank as of May 20th. That should cover those pesky bills from Big Dog Strategies and her other consultants for a few months. Her next financial filing is due on July 5th.
  • For Dixon and all other candidates and political committees there are also financial filings due on July 15. Those will help focus the county executive election and the three or four County Legislature races that are competitive.
  • The presidential debates went off reasonably well, and they are likely to help focus things better in the not too distant future.
  • The biggest boosts from the events, in this humble blog’s estimation, went to Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, and Amy Klobuchar.
  • Harris was incredibly effective in getting at frontrunner Joe Biden on his history concerning civil rights issues. He can recover, but he is fighting a bit up-hill now.
  • As Bernie Sanders’ campaign loses steam he seems to be expanding on more aggressive, costly and not-so-well thought out proposals, the most recent being wiping out all student loan debt. Elizabeth Warren appears to be ready to pass Bernie in national polling. His problem is that there is too much competition for the liberal/progressive vote.
  • This blog has certainly taken a verbal shot or two at Congressman Chris Collins on his Trump cheerleading and his legal problems. But a recent note in the Long Story Short blog pointed out something that shows that Chris has a practical side on a major issue. He has filed a bill (HR 2801) that has the purpose of providing “temporary resident status and employment authorization for certain non-seasonal agricultural workers.” Undoubtedly the bill has been filed on behalf of the many farmers in the 27th Congressional District. Collins’ current status as a member of the House, which includes having been barred by Republicans from committee assignments, limits the likelihood of any bill of his moving forward.
  • Has anyone heard or seen anything of the whereabouts of the state’s new Public Financing of State Elections Commission – the one that will set up public campaign financing in the state and might end fusion voting? Please pass it on.

An updating survey

This blog asked a series of polling questions last month, one of which was to determine support for 2020 presidential candidates. Here were the results:

  • Joe Biden            32.2%
  • Elizabeth Warren   19.8%
  • Donald Trump   11.6%
  • Pete Buttigieg   9%
  • Kamala Harris     9%
  • Beto O’Rourke  3.3%
  • Kristen Gillibrand; Amy Klobuchar; none of the above    2.5%
  • Michael Bennet; Bernie Sanders                    1.7%
  • Cory Booker; John Hickenlooper; Tim Ryan; Bill Weld; Andrew Yang     0.8%
  • Bill deBlasio; Steve Bullock; Julian Castro; John Delaney; Tulsi Gabbard; Mike Gravel; Jay Inslee; Wayne Messam; Seth Moulton; Howard Schultz; Eric Swalwell; Marianne Williamsson    0%

The survey was random and in no way scientific but it did give a glimpse of where things stood among the readers of this blog. With the first set of Democratic debates now over, I thought it would be interesting to re-survey the presidential question. So here it is:

Pigeongate comes to a conclusion; pre-election campaign financials

It’s all over but the sentencing. Former Erie County Democratic Chairman Steve Pigeon has pled guilty to a bribery charge in State Supreme Court and to a charge of an illegal campaign donation to Governor Cuomo in federal court. State sentencing is scheduled for December. Federal sentencing will occur in January. The two guilty pleas each carry sentences of approximately one year. How those sentences will be coordinated and finally resolved remains to be seen.   I speculated in a previous post about where Pigeon might prefer to serve his time, if he has any say in the question. Continue reading

A judge, the president, some bishops and a priest

When I was a freshman at Canisius College many moons ago (it was 1966), I was a political science major. I was drawn to the subject by President Kennedy. The world of politics seemed fascinating.

In the fall of that year, as the College has done for many years, a major figure in government came to speak at the school, Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. Justice Brennan was a Democrat, but he had been named to the Court by Republican President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956. He was appointed in October of that year, a month before the presidential election. It was a recess appointment (the Senate was not in session) and he was confirmed in 1957. My, how things have changed. Continue reading

Campaign finances — how much did that race cost?

This post provides the most recent campaign financial updates for candidates in the September 13th primary elections, which were mostly on the Democratic side. Before I get to that, I have added some analysis.

A reader of the blog suggested that it would be interesting to see how the votes received by the various candidates compared with what they had spent during 2018, right up to the primary. The State Board of Elections does not yet have final statewide primary results posted, so the vote totals (estimated at 99 percent) are taken from press reports. The final vote numbers will go up a bit for all statewide candidates, so the cost per vote will decrease a little for all of them. Here is a summary: Continue reading