Buffalopundit Endorses

30 Oct

Although I realize that this is about as worthless and useless as just about anything, I still do it every year. Why? Because I feel like it! Some of the following are people who will be on my ballot, and others aren’t. No one has paid me a red cent for an ad or endorsement, ever – these are based on my own judgment and opinion. I am not including the unopposed and almost-unopposed races. So, coming up Tuesday the 4th, I recommend voting for the following candidates:

President: Barack Obama

My coming around to Obama didn’t come quickly or reflexively. I was a big fan of Bill Richardson’s, but he ran a crap campaign. I saw that it was between Clinton and Obama in December 2007, and began leaning Obama. In January, Obama amazingly won Iowa. That was all she wrote.

The moment came when I started listening to Obama’s speeches on race, on family, on America as that shining city on the hill – a place that aspires to greatness, and which people from around the world seek to emulate. Barack Obama is the closest thing to Ronald Reagan the Democrats have ever had. In a time when Americans are fearful and uncertain about their future, Obama talks about hope, change, and a brighter future.

It’s what he’s been doing for the past 22 months. It won him the nomination. It will win him the election. It will be win for the USA.

In a time when Americans are sick and tired of the politics of hatred, division, and polarization, Obama extends a hand and says, let’s work together in a spirit of compromise and cooperation to bring about a 21st century America – a better, leaner and more efficient government – to bring about change to our economy, to our foreign policy, to our domestic affairs.

The economy has been battered over the last few months, and throughout the crisis, Obama was – well, presidential. No crazy tactics or erratic grandstanding – Obama listened, learned, consulted, and deliberated. He did the same with respect to Iraq. There have been many times over the past 11 months that I’ve listened to or read something from Obama that has simply taken me aback – that a candidate doesn’t talk down to me like some kind of idiot. That a candidate has a reasoned, intelligent, well-executed set of ideas and plans is something we’ve frankly been without for the past 8 years. By way of example, on Tuesday while having lunch on Allen Street, I read this article in Time Magazine.

General David Petraeus deployed overwhelming force when he briefed Barack Obama and two other Senators in Baghdad last July. He knew Obama favored a 16-month timetable for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq, and he wanted to make the strongest possible case against it. And so, after he had presented an array of maps and charts and PowerPoint slides describing the current situation on the ground in great detail, Petraeus closed with a vigorous plea for “maximum flexibility” going forward.

Obama had a choice at that moment. He could thank Petraeus for the briefing and promise to take his views “under advisement.” Or he could tell Petraeus what he really thought, a potentially contentious course of action — especially with a general not used to being confronted. Obama chose to speak his mind. “You know, if I were in your shoes, I would be making the exact same argument,” he began. “Your job is to succeed in Iraq on as favorable terms as we can get. But my job as a potential Commander in Chief is to view your counsel and interests through the prism of our overall national security.” Obama talked about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the financial costs of the occupation of Iraq, the stress it was putting on the military.

A “spirited” conversation ensued, one person who was in the room told me. “It wasn’t a perfunctory recitation of talking points. They were arguing their respective positions, in a respectful way.” The other two Senators — Chuck Hagel and Jack Reed — told Petraeus they agreed with Obama. According to both Obama and Petraeus, the meeting — which lasted twice as long as the usual congressional briefing — ended agreeably. Petraeus said he understood that Obama’s perspective was, necessarily, going to be more strategic. Obama said that the timetable obviously would have to be flexible. But the Senator from Illinois had laid down his marker: if elected President, he would be in charge. Unlike George W. Bush, who had given Petraeus complete authority over the war — an unprecedented abdication of presidential responsibility (and unlike John McCain, whose hero worship of Petraeus bordered on the unseemly) — Obama would insist on a rigorous chain of command.

Again – Obama listened, learned, consulted, and deliberated. And in this instance, he challenged. We can’t have a President who just rolls over for whatever anyone’s telling him. We’ve had 8 years of a President who abandons pragmatism and deliberation in favor of ideology and inflexibility. We can’t have a President who doesn’t demand frank answers to tough questions from his subordinates, and we can’t have a President who doesn’t ensure adherence to constitutional constructs with respect to who’s in charge of what.

In 2004, I heard an unknown guy with a funny name give a speech at the Democratic National Convention. I will never forget hearing this passage:

The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an “awesome God” in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

At the time – the Iraq war was a year and a half old and going sour – it was a blockbuster speech and a concept so completely foreign to many ears turned numb from Roveian division. I thought then that this was Obama’s entry into the 2008 election. I was right. I am so ready for this guy to become President, and to have someone in Washington working hard to ensure a brighter future and a more perfect union. Website here.

NY-26: Alice Kryzan

There is no question that the 26th district has been ill-served for too long by former clout-wielding Republican Tom Reynolds. Reynolds is the kind of guy who lives in the past – old divisions, old issues, old ways of thinking. There is hardly an initiative anyone can point to as the “Reynolds record of excellence”, which really is what any legislator should aspire to, given the opportunity to go to Washington and do right by his constituents and the country. (Not to mention get paid a lot of public money and benefits-for-life).

There are two rookies vying for this seat this year, Democrat Alice Kryzan and Republican Chris Lee. There is not one thing that Lee has done or said that has been even remotely impressive, except perhaps for his fundraising prowess. His ideas are the same recycled, old Republican pablum that we’ve endured for 8 years under Bush, and longer still being represented by Reynolds. Lee seems like a nice enough guy, and I credit anyone willing to stand up and take a shot at a run, but in this year, in this climate, with the problems we’re facing, it’s patently time for something new.

Alice Kryzan is a brilliant and well-respected veteran environmental litigator who, by trade and training, can (and must) see both sides of an issue. She offers a platform not dissimilar to that of Barack Obama, with his focus on trickle-up tax breaks for the middle class and poor, more accessible health care, an as-soon-as-possible end to the war in Iraq in a safe and controlled manner, and the promotion of “what’s next” for Western New York’s (and the country’s) economy. Western New York was a pioneer in sustainable energy production, and we need to reclaim that mantle with whatever non-fossil-fuel options are out there that are available. Alice will bring renewed energy to these issues, and more responsiveness and care to constituent issues. Website here.

NY-27: Brian Higgins

You know how I mentioned above that Reynolds doesn’t really have much of a record fighting for positive change in WNY? Brian Higgins has accomplished more in 4 years than Reynolds has in 10. Western New York is better off having him in Washington fighting for a fair shake from NYPA, holding the Thruway Authority’s feet to the fire over tolls by highlighting its federal funding, being in the forefront – really, the go-to guy – of waterfront development in the City of Buffalo. Brian Higgins is no knee-jerk liberal, and he’s drawn the ire of the far left for many of his votes with respect to security and police powers, but that shows me that he’s a principled and pragmatic politician who is willing to be independent of Democratic orthodoxy. I don’t like robots – I need someone who thinks and gets things done. Higgins’ opponent, like Lee, offers nothing really new to the table. Both he and Lee repeat how they’ve met a payroll and run successful businesses. Lee inherited his, but Humiston built his. That is admirable, regardless of how you feel about tanning beds. But the job of a congressman isn’t to build a business, make a profit, or make a payroll. It’s to make and shape public policy. Higgins has proven that he is good at it, and that what he does benefits WNY. Website here.

NY-29: Eric Massa

Does what’s happened over the last 8 years really get you pumped? No? Randy Kuhl was an enthusiastic supporter of George W. Bush. He accused Democrats of wanting to see the country do badly. He is a detestable, bullying figure who hasn’t earned re-election. By contrast, Eric Massa is a smart and energetic veteran. He’s a cancer survivor and has intimate, first-hand knowledge of foreign policy and military issues from his tenure as Retired General Wesley Clark’s chief aide while Clark was Supreme Allied Commander of NATO’s European forces. Massa is on board with the renewed concentration on the hardships of the middle class, which will be a refreshing change from the Bush Administration’s obsession for giving the superrich a hand. Website here.

SD-61: Joe Mesi

Did you really expect the guy who ran against Mike Ranzenhofer for a county leg seat to endorse Mike Ranzenhofer for a State Senate seat?

I am well-versed in Ranzenhofer’s legislative record, and to say it’s unimpressive is an understatement. Has he ever voted for a tax increase? No. But he’s voted for a great many budgets containing spending hikes, and what makes that so egregious is that it is patently fiscally unconservative to do that. Ranzenhofer was all too happy to plow Giambra’s policies of borrow & spend through the legislature as minority and majority leader. He complains about roads not being repaired – including many in his own district – yet refuses to vote for budgets that would fund them (as if it would all be done for free).

The Buffalo News noted that Mesi is not as well-versed on the issues as Ranzenhofer. Well, neither would you be if you were a rookie running against a 20-year veteran. I find Mesi to be smart, accessible, and above all a good listener. A guy who is as regular as they come, but has a major stake in this community and wants to ensure that his family and everyone’s gets a fair shake going forward. He is in favor of maintenance of the STAR program, and is pushing for measured, intelligent cuts to the state budget that don’t arbitrarily slash items that people not only depend on, but that are critical to our future. Like schools and public safety. He is dedicated to the expansion of green jobs and industry in New York, and for a ban on unfunded Albany mandates. He is in favor of a tax cap with a circuit breaker, and isn’t just looking at what the state’s problems are now, but is looking into the future to try and work towards longer-term goals to growth and prosperity. I also appreciate the fact that he’s not playing the upstate Republican game of demonizing downstate New York. It’s not productive.

The involvement of Steve Pigeon in Mesi’s campaign is troubling, but not enough so that I would for some reason say, “gee, I’ll vote for Ranz”. Website here.

SD-59: Kathy Konst

When Dale Volker went to Albany as an Assemblyman, Richard Nixon was being inaugurated for his second term. Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon. New York’s World Trade Center had its ribbon-cutting. The Watergate scandal hadn’t yet hit. Nelson Rockefeller was Governor. Stanley Makowski had just taken over the mayor’s office from Frank Sedita, Sr.

And in that 36 years, Volker has done – what, exactly? The state has seen tragic decline in population and economic growth. Albany is as dysfunctional as it’s ever been. In 36 years, Volker should be able to point to a vast, proven record of service and excellence. Instead, he and his goon squad insult and threaten anyone who might unseat this unprincipled thug with a $1 million state payroll all his own. First, he and his people threatened and insulted Republican challenger David DiPietro, and now he’s doing just about everything in his power to not only defeat Kathy Konst, but to destroy her.

And in a year when people talk of mavericks, Kathy Konst really is one. She’s a Democrat, but she is neither beholden to Democratic Headquarters, nor is there very much love lost between the two. Although Konst and her husband are not beloved figures in local Democratic circles, we’re not voting for the Konsts’ friends or enemies – we’re voting for Konst. She has a proven record of transparency and hard work towards reform in the county legislature – both substantive and procedural. If ever there was someone we should send to Albany to give her a chance to shake things up, it’s Konst. Website here.

SD-58: Bill Stachowski

Dennis Delano may be a hero cop, but his political views and positions are unknown, since he won’t debate or appear anywhere to discuss the issues on voters’ minds. Seriously, Stachowski wins almost by default, and as ranking minority member of the finance committee, he is well-positioned to do a lot of good for WNY and the state-at-large. And if that doesn’t do it for you, Republican Jim Kelly endorses him, too. Website here.

Supreme Court: John Michalek, Tracey Bannister

Michalek is running for his second term. Bannister is the only candidate running who has earned the Erie County Bar Association’s highest ranking – Outstanding. As confidential law clerk to Justice Gorski in Supreme Court and in the Appellate Division, she has the experience and skills needed to be an excellent Justice.

Clarence:

David Donohue for Town Justice

David is running on the WFP line and is an excellent attorney and dedicated deputy town attorney. He is a lifelong resident of the town and very active in the community.

Tim Pazda for Town Board

Tim Pazda is a community juggernaut in his own right. He has volunteered for just about every local committee and charity imaginable, including the bicentennial celebrations this year, and many years with the Clarence Center VFD. He is a member of the planning board and extraordinarily knowledgable about development issues in the town. One of his initiatives was to institute design guidelines for certain areas of town to ensure that development follows the character of the surrounding area. That’s why the Dunkin Donuts at Goodrich & Main won’t be a beige eyesore, and it’s an idea that every community in WNY could learn from. Website here.

No matter what you do, please go out and vote. You may not think that your vote counts when you think, e.g., of the Presidential race – but it sure as hell matters to the downticket candidates.

18 Responses to “Buffalopundit Endorses”

  1. Russell October 30, 2008 at 11:05 am #

    Shocking!

  2. Brian October 30, 2008 at 12:32 pm #

    I disagree with your Mesi and Konst picks. While I do not have a problem with one-party rule, I do have a problem with that one party being able to gerrymander their power indefinately – which would be the case. By having the houses of the State Legislature ruled by different parties, I beleive it would have our state government a balance it needs.

  3. Ivan October 30, 2008 at 12:38 pm #

    Given the whining and moaning that goes on in western NY in regard to Albany, I can’t believe anyone would even think of voting for Dale Volker.
    He is the epitome of the Albany status quo. After 36 years his time for walking off into the sunset has come.

  4. mike October 30, 2008 at 1:11 pm #

    Brian, your too late, what does the intercity people of Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Rochester have in common? The same district, the lilly white repubican suburbs would never let us in their district, so they made some crazy map just to give us the shaft.

  5. Marshawn October 30, 2008 at 1:30 pm #

    Volker is a joke, everyone knows it. He’s losing ground in the polls also. http://staging.siena.edu/uploadedFiles/Home/Parents_and_Community/Community_Page/SRI/SNY_Poll/SNY%20Senate%20Poll%20Round%202%20Release%201–%20FINAL.pdf

  6. wizards cousin mizard October 30, 2008 at 2:57 pm #

    how quickly you change your tune on kryzan now that Powers isn’t the endorsed Democrat.

    vote powers – the real choice

  7. Buffalopundit October 30, 2008 at 3:02 pm #

    Powers is domiciled in the District of Columbia, and could not serve if elected. What on earth could the point of voting for him possibly be?

  8. Snarky Snarkmore McSnarkamaphone October 30, 2008 at 3:42 pm #

    The moment came when I started listening to Obama’s speeches on race, on family, on America as that shining city on the hill – a place that aspires to greatness, and which people from around the world seek to emulate.

    oh, please. American Exceptionalism is the biggest impediment to change we have!

    Barack Obama is the closest thing to Ronald Reagan the Democrats have ever had.

    You call that an endorsement?

  9. The Humanist October 30, 2008 at 3:46 pm #

    @Snarky – I think Pundit means is the 2008 election has as much promise and potential to be as transformative an election as Reagan’s win in 1980. That didn’t just deliver the White House back to the GOP, it set in motion the Republican dominance of electoral politics for the next 26 years.

  10. Jim H October 30, 2008 at 4:02 pm #

    I wish we dominated elctoral poitics for the next 26 years after Reagan got elected. Bill clinton had 8 years in there, and any legislative majorities were razor thin.

  11. Get Off My Lawn October 30, 2008 at 4:10 pm #

    Channel 2 News released a new SurveyUSA Poll during their Thursday noon news broadcast with the following results for the congressional race in the 26th district:

    Chris Lee 48%
    Alice Kryzan 34%
    Undecided 18%

  12. Ward October 30, 2008 at 4:36 pm #

    Not a surprise in the whole bucket.

    At the rate Krazyn (sic) is gaining, she should have this thing in the bag by Valentine’s Day.

  13. heavyweight October 30, 2008 at 8:03 pm #

    Kryzan is going to lose because she has no crossover appeal, Jon Powers did, why people voted for her in the primary is utterly beyond me. We have officially wrecked what could have been the best house pickup opportunity in the state. I’ll vote for her over that arrogant, snobby, overgrown trust fund kid, but not with any sort of enthusiasm or hope that she’ll win.

    I really don’t care for a Republican leader during the county budget crisis to be given a seat at the table of running an already fiscally chaotic state, good call on Mesi.

    Kuhl is a tool, I’m all for Massa.

    Konst, well, alright, if it gets rid of Volker.

    Obama….duh?

    Good picks overall Alan.

  14. Adam K. October 30, 2008 at 8:11 pm #

    The ONLY reasonable rationale I’ve heard for supporting Mesi:

    “Mesi is a terrible, awful person who will make a terrible, awful Senator

    Ranzenhofer is a terrible, awful legislator who will make a terrible, awful Senator

    Given the choice between an awful Dem and an awful Rep, I’ll take the Dem”

  15. WNYPMH October 31, 2008 at 8:42 am #

    Is their something that Mesi has done to make him a “terrible, awful person” ?

  16. Ford October 31, 2008 at 10:46 pm #

    I used to think you were objective. Now I know better. You should change the name of your site to Buffalo Democratic Pundit!

  17. Buffalopundit November 1, 2008 at 6:14 am #

    Beckwith, perhaps you could indulge me and recommend which Republican I should be supporting in these races?

    McCain, whose one big decision was to choose the execrable Sarah Palin? Dale Volker? Chris Lee? Dan Humiston? Mike Ranzenhofer? Why should I have chosen any one of these people? Please, enlighten me.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Buffalo Pundit » Blog Archive » 2008. It was a year. - December 29, 2008

    […] was packed with stuff I won’t rehash here – most of it Obama vs. McCain. My endorsements were here. The election day post is here. The election results post is here. The Buffalo blogosphere […]

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