The mid-term election day edition of facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets

Today is Election Day – the mid-term of all mid-terms. This one feels a lot different. Sort of like Super Bowl Sunday, especially when your team was playing that day. Come on, you can remember how that felt.

I’m not offering any specific predictions here. After all that has been said, written and done, you can draw your own conclusions about what is about to happen. Try to be objective, because like it or not we are all about to come face-to-face with political reality.

Be sure to vote! Vote in honor of the people in states like Georgia and Kansas where voting is restricted. Hope that someday New York will enter the 21st century and offer early voting and a more rational process for voter registration.

There are going to be a whole lot of very close races. More than ever, voter turnouts for the Republicans and the Democrats are critical this year.

Vote today with a purpose, not a vendetta. There are a lot of important issues facing the nation and our state, and clear thinking is better than reacting to silly conspiracy theories. As Melania Trump says, “Be Best.”

Here are some facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets:

  • The local election night focus will be on offices currently held by Republicans: Congressmen Chris Collins and Tom Reed; Assemblymen Ray Walter, Eric Bohen, and David DiPietro; and County Clerk Michael Kearns. There are no local Democratic officeholders who are being seriously challenged.
  • The viciousness of the Republican TV ads shows certain candidates have concluded that talking positive won’t work for them. This is particularly true when the candidate is under indictment. Collins’ ads have been radically off-base. Reed shifted from positive to negative advertising, which indicates that that race is closer than many people might imagine.
  • Emails from candidates of both parties continued to pour in a day or two before the election, asking for donations. What would they do with a donation that arrived yesterday except pay for things that they have already produced, aired and mailed?
  • The September Democratic primaries signal increased turnout today. Will Democratic State Chairman Byron Brown produce enough votes in Buffalo to allow Andrew Cuomo to carry Erie County? What will Republican State Chairman-in-waiting Nick Langworthy’s Erie County turnout do to show his party’s strength?
  • An interesting development in Amherst. After Amherst Town Board Member Francina Spoth was tossed from the Democratic line for Town Clerk by the courts because of a failure to follow legal procedures, Amherst Democrats were forced to try to elect Spoth on the Conservative Party line — something many Erie County Democrats have been avoiding in recent elections. Campaign postcards for Spoth indicate the ballot position but played down her Conservative Party endorsement.
  • Just wondering, does this have anything to do with Democratic Amherst Supervisor Brian Kulpa attending the Conservatives’ weekly Saturday breakfast recently?
  • And how about the robocall going to Amherst voters saying that Spoth is on the Conservative line while berating Conservative Party positions on issues like guns, abortion and Donald Trump? The Republicans are usually allies with the Conservatives, but these calls that are trying to torpedo the Conservative candidate for Clerk, which would benefit the Republican candidate for town clerk, Jeffery Zeplowitz.
  • In a related matter, the same Democratic transaction that had the Party place Spoth on the line for Amherst Clerk also certified Democratic candidates for the Town Board of Cheektowaga and the Eden Town Clerk positions. Evidently the Republicans did not challenge those certifications, even though the Democrats for the offices, holding no minor party lines on the ballot, could have been tossed from the election under the same law. The Cheektowaga Republicans lost the chance to elect one of their own by default. Somebody was sleeping at the switch.
  • It sure sounds like the Democrats may take the State Senate. There are only three Democratic senators north of Westchester County, including Tim Kennedy in Buffalo. Where will that leave upstate? What might it cost us?
  • Some folks are concerned that Democratic control of Governor’s office, the Assembly, and the Senate could jeopardize fusion voting, forcing minor parties to run their own affiliated voters rather than endorse a Democrat or a Republican. That could significantly affect future elections in the state.
  • Speaking of the minor parties, which of the six that currently exist will survive today’s election? Will they all get the required 50,000 votes to remain on the ballot for the next four years? The Cuomo inspired Women’s Equality Party and the Rob Astorino created Reform Party are the most likely casualties today. The Conservatives will likely continue to hold the third line on the ballot.
  • Will the City of Lockport elect Michelle Roman as the first Democratic mayor in about twenty years?
  • Some other stuff: Vic Carucci is right —the Bills season is effectively over, even with seven games yet to play. My pre-season prognostication about 5 wins seems optimistic now. It’s really hard to watch the defense guys play their hearts out while witnessing the total collapse of the offense.
  • I don’t follow hockey much, but the Sabres seem to be doing something right. It’s still a little early, however, to order playoff tickets.

Tune to WBFO 88.7 FM tonight where I will be joining Warren Galloway to discuss election results with News Director Dave Debo.

Death threats, part II — where is the leadership, Bernie? More on Maziarz and ECC

I wrote on April 29th about an email from Senator Ted Cruz indicating that his presidential campaign had set up a “delegate defense fund” to help protect the convention delegates pledged to him who had received all sorts of intimidating comments and threats from people supporting Donald Trump, including evidently, death threats. Such comments also circulated in the media and appeared to have credibility. Trump supporters have in various ways publicly demonstrated their aggressive tendencies. Trump himself has done little to tamp down such activities. Continue reading

Maziarz cannot serve as a lobbyist until 2017, but is he doing so now?

George Maziarz served as a member of the New York State Senate for 20 years, from 1995 through December 31, 2014. During his time in office he was an active and aggressive legislator. He worked to provide assistance to Niagara Falls and the County of Niagara in obtaining funding and legislative changes.

Then in 2014, on the heels of the now-disbanded Moreland Commission, Senator Maziarz got himself into some legal problems linked to his election campaign account and how it was used. He spent tens of thousands of dollars of his campaign funds to hire attorneys to defend him. He declined to seek re-election in 2014. Continue reading

Western New York firms and organizations spent $5.5 million on lobbyists in 2015; here’s the list

This post marks a minor milestone for Politics and Other Stuff. I am presenting my second annual review of local lobbying activities in state and local government. The first edition was published on May 13, 2015. Once again, this is mainly a “what we know if we do a little digging” post.

When I worked at Canisius College one of my responsibilities was to serve as the school’s registered New York State lobbyist. I became familiar with the Lobbying Commission’s rules and procedures, including the periodic reports they require. Continue reading

Some facts, speculation and heard-on-the-streets

Erie County DA

Michael Flaherty, as previously reported, has already assembled a large campaign war chest. It’s the politics that seem to be his problem.

There are continuing reports about his lack of political skills on the campaign trail. Most of us would prefer that a DA be as non-political as possible, but that really refers to activities such as appointments, handling cases and the like. What I am referring to is the give-and-take of campaigning, working a room, etc. That does not seem to be going so well for Flaherty.

John Flynn, having been a candidate before, is more comfortable with such activities. I have not really heard much about Mark Sacha’s campaign style. Continue reading

The Reform Party comes to life in Erie County; local campaigns feature serious contests

In 1996 presidential candidate Ross Perot ran for president on the Reform Party line. He lost and the party disappeared.

Rob Astorino ran as the Stop Common Core Party candidate in last year’s gubernatorial election. The party barely made it over the 50,000 vote threshold, but they earned the right to exist as a party in New York State for four years. Earlier this year Astorino allies changed the name of the party to Reform. Evidently they thought that “Reform” is a more generic name. What the party is trying to reform is anyone’s guess. Continue reading