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:

Stephan Miller was prophetic; run, Chris, run

If you look up the word “twerp” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is defined as:

noun: a silly or annoying person

A second meaning should be: Stephan Miller. Actually, that would be an insult to all the other mere ordinary twerps of the world.

Yes, that Stephan Miller. Senior advisor to Donald Trump. Supreme czar of all things concerning immigration.

Miller is one of the most obnoxious members of the administration of Donald Trump, nearly in a class by himself. Even some of the Trumpsters are smart enough to understand the toxicity of Miller – not just his policy positions, but his personality. Continue reading

New stealth legislation in Albany has fusion voting in its sights

New York State government, to borrow a phrase, moves in a mysterious way. Not always in a good and proper way, but oftentimes, mysterious.

I’m referring to such things as the preparation and approval of the annual budget. While most of the budget is day-to-day management of the government, there are always some surprises.

This year’s surprise was public financing of elections for state office, potentially providing up to $100 million in public funds for campaigns. The stated goal, aside from spending a ton of money, is to drive corrupt “bad” money out of elections. Continue reading

WNY firms and organizations spent $5.1 million on lobbying in 2018

Budget-wise, things have been getting a bit tight in Albany recently. The urge to spend state money by newly-elected liberal Democrats from New York City was tempered by the realities of diminishing tax revenues as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s interest in continuing to hold down the growth in spending.

Nonetheless, determining how state resources will be used continues to feed a large segment of the business community that tries every year to get a larger piece of the pie. Lobbying is alive and well in New York State. Continue reading

What’s happening (and not happening) with the 2019 elections in Buffalo?

The year 2019 really seems like a strange one in local politics. The state Election Law changes, which shifted the political calendar, seem to make everything a bit off kilter.

A June primary schedule is not new in New York. Such was the case for many years until the early 1970’s, when Albany changed things to set up a September primary. That, of course, means that practically no one involved in local politics today has any history about the rhythm of what an early summer primary means. Continue reading