Lenihan Returns, Ryce Nowhere

27 Sep

The Brown/Casey – Pigeon factions’ clumsy attempt to oust Len Lenihan as chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee failed on Saturday.  At the Democrats’ biannual reorganization meeting, Lenihan was re-elected unanimously by the rank-and-file Democratic committeepeople.

Last Tuesday, Buffalo businesswoman Sundra Ryce commenced a run against Lenihan.  She has supported Democratic candidates with monetary contributions, but exclusively Grassroots-backed candidates like Antoine Thompson, Byron Brown, and Jim Keane.  On Friday, Mayor Brown, Erie County Legislature Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams, and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes endorsed Ryce’s candidacy.  (Surprise, surprise).  This from the Buffalo News’ Politics Now blog:

“There is a movement that is taking off and gaining tremendous speed,” Brown said.

Ryce said she decided to challenge for the top party post only about a week ago, following the Primary elections. That was when she said she realized the Democratic Party needed to be “re-energized.”

But on Saturday – the day that mattered – none of them showed up.  Indeed, Ryce was never so much as nominated.  Ryce herself is not a committeeperson (one might be expected to expect her to be a member of the committee she expects to lead), and could not nominate herself.  She couldn’t even enter the meeting.  Mirroring 2008, the challenge to Lenihan was full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  Brown and co. were just out to jerk Lenihan around, and didn’t bother to show up and take their trouncing.

As I said in 2008,

It’s disheartening to me the fact that Mayor Brown has so much potential to be an agent for positive change in this city, yet he gets all wrapped up in losing silly, petty political battles of his own creation.

The Emily Litella school of politics – “never mind” – gets Brown some ink, and makes for some suspense in an otherwise boring process.

Congratulations to Lenihan and his supporters.  It’s time for Mayor Brown and his supporters to grow up and work together with the party leadership to defeat Republicans.  But that won’t happen because of the strategic alliance with Chris Collins that Brown and Pigeon have created and continue to cultivate.

Frankly, it’s that simple.

7 Responses to “Lenihan Returns, Ryce Nowhere”

  1. BobbyCat September 27, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    Let’s not pretend that Democrats are one happy family. I think the Mayor is competent enough to fix the potholes and sign the checks but not competent enough to change the City. Likewise, Len Lenihan is competent enough to find recycled people to win elections (with the huge enrollment advantage) but not competent enough to find leaders who can stop the downward spiral of this area. In their many ways, both are incompetents. I’ve been a Dem all my life and for some reason I STILL cannot get used to the mountain of little corruptions that comprise what we call government, and sadly, watch this reason self -destruct for want of inspiring leadership. Ralph Wilson may be a dottering old man but he still has enough sense to fire a head coach with a losing record. We’ve been falling off a cliff, yet we still re-elect Len Lenihan. God help us.

  2. The Point Is September 27, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    Well said BobbyCat.

  3. Jeff September 27, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

    The position of Democratic chair is fundamentally weak, these aren’t the days of Joe Crangle. Certain times the chair can play his cards right and get strong candidates and good elected officials in tough situations like Mark Poloncarz or Brian Higgins, but other times the chair will get stuck with Jim Keane’s because a lack of control of jobs and the empowerment of individually elected officials. Lenihan has done an excellent job keeping peace and leaving local decisions up to local committees, and that is what most Democratic committee members who endured the Pigeon era of war and top down control appreciate. But the Kingmaker role to ordain people of great plans, you want in a chair doesn’t exist.

  4. BobbyCat September 28, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    Lenihan is incapable of recruiting the best and the brightest talent because he has very little gravitas himself. If he has leadership skills (other than the ‘peace-keeping’ you cite) they are not apparent to me.

    Some town have been filled with corrupt Dems for generations. Don’t tell me the County Chairman is helpless in the face of corrupt officials. If he has no power to change things, its because he is willing to accept corruption or doens’t want to rock his family boat.

    And BTW, I don’t know any regular citizens who cheer when either party sweeps into office.
    Years ago they might have, but not today. Most people are disgusted with both parties. So disgusted that they will vote for an unrepentant, uncouth, racist,sexist, loudmouth who espouses dictatorships. We have sunk pretty low when that happens. I don’t hear any cheers for Len Lenihan. He should have stepped aside fo the good of this region. I don’t need to provide details of why and how this region is failing. We need transformative leaders , not caretakers.

  5. Mark September 28, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    BobbyCat, I’m not sure what a “regular citizen” is, but I’m quite pleased when Democrats are swept into office. But then, you probably don’t know me, so maybe what you wrote is true. There is still a clear difference between Republicans and Democrats, even at the local level.

    I’m a closed party list guy, myself.

  6. Gabe September 28, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

    On our local politician scene the party labels are somewhat meaningless as evidenced by the unholy alliance between the Brown-Pigeon faction and the county Republicans. So basically a one party state with a scattered opposition.

  7. Jeff September 28, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    So you want Lenihan to recruit candidates for town board in say Lancaster and then run primary against the incumbent Democrats? Look, most of the Chairman’s job is to lend political support on the local level, State Senate, Congress and Countywide offices are the only real offices a chair recruits for and there are many other centers of gravity involved in those decisions. The chair constituency is the Committee members, Incumbents, candidates and donors, not the average voter or random internet posters. You won’t always like what a chair does, but in truth you don’t really understand the job.

    And be careful what you wish for, who do you think would be chairman if Lenihan was not? Are you ready for a Democratic committee run by Jack O’Donnell, Steve Casey or Frank Max?

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