The Latest News in #NY26

10 Feb

Within thirty minutes of Rep. Chris Lee’s resignation from Congress, my phone began buzzing with texts and calls from political insiders, hacks and hangers-on with updates on the behind-the-scenes feeding frenzy in the race to replace Lee.

According to the law, the candidates to succeed Lee are chosen by a weighted vote of the county party chairs in the district. The 26th district includes parts of Erie, Niagara, Monroe, Genesee, Livingston, Wyoming and Orleans counties. It is a far-flung district that was drawn as a Republican safe haven for former Rep. Tom “Boss Hogg” Reynolds.  For the Republican Party, Erie and Niagara County hold 51% of the weighted vote in the designation vote by the county chairs.  I can’t seem to find the weighted vote breakout for the Democrats in this district but I recall that it is similar or higher.

Now that we’ve dispensed with the formalities…lets get to the feeding frenzy.  I spoke with several Republicans and many Democrats both local and statewide in the last twenty four hours and this is what I’ve gleaned from those conversations.

Not Running Nor Under Consideration:

Carl Paladino

The former NY GOP Gubernatorial candidate is not even remotely under consideration for the designation.  Under no circumstances would the local, state or national Republican Party support his candidacy in this race.  Carl is a proud, lifelong resident of South Buffalo (NY-27) and would need to move into NY-26 to run, which is doubtful.  He is absolutely toxic and since Lee just committed political suicide with topless email photos, it is unfathomable that Carl “Horse Porn, N-Word Email” Paladino would garner any demonstrable level of support.

Chris Collins

The reports are that the current Erie County Executive is not interested in the race.  Several sources close to Collins tell me that the he is focused on running for re-election and a future run for Governor.  While he has a formidable war chest for a Congressional campaign, Collins will continue his laser-like focus on taking things away from “the poors” and destroying the urban fabric of WNY.  As an aside, Collins does not possess a legislative temperament.  The very idea of being just 1 of 435 voices in Congress must sicken him.  The daily compromising, the mixing with the hoi polloi, and the good-nature tickle fights with guys like Eric Massa would drive this egomaniac insane.

Kathy Konst

Former Erie County Legislator has been hard at work trying to get her name out as a candidate.  Reporters who aren’t in tune with our petty local politics might remember Konst as an up and coming reformist legislator. However, that’s no longer the case.  During her ill-fated 2008 state senate campaign against Republican Dinosaur Dale Volker, it was revealed what an enormous train wreck her husband was financially and she was publicly hung out to dry and beaten like a filthy carpet by Volker.  She never recovered.

She turned on the local Democratic Party and basically handed her County Legislature seat to the Grover Dill of local politics, Dino Fudoli.  She was immediately appointed as Commissioner of Environment and Planning under Chris Collins in the least transparent political sellout in recent local memory. She is persona non grata with local and regional Democrats.  In fact, I think it’s more likely that Jimmy Griffin (deceased former Mayor of Buffalo) would win this seat.  Since Konst would need to secure certificates of authorization from Erie County Dem Chairman Len Lenihan and Niagara County Dem Chair Dan Rivera (who share the majority of the weighted vote) Kathy doesn’t have a chance in hell.  All done with that rumor, okay?

The Republican Frontrunners

George Maziarz

Maziarz has been in the New York State Senate since 1995 and is an entrenched Albany politician who maintains appeal with the tea party lunatics and centrist Republicans.  Sources say he has the full support of former Rep. Tom Reynolds who is still a local kingmaker in Republican circles.

During his time in office, Maziarz has demonstrated the kind of tone deaf leadership which has made Albany famous for its epic level of dysfunction.  His “government reform” sensibilities have been on display in recent years.  For example, Maziarz spent $906,831 of our tax dollars on staff expenditures between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009.    In 2009 and 2010, Maziarz raised campaign funds with tutti di tutti scumbag of the New York State Senate, Pedro Espada.  Maziarz is also the leader of a chorus of legislators who denounce “downstate” interests while accepting massive campaign donations from public employee unions, downstate interests, and lobbying groups.  He has been a proponent of generic Republican causes like “lowering taxes” and “lowering taxes”, “protecting the sanctity of marriage”.  Also, “lowering taxes”.  He likes that idea.

Recently, Maziarz was appointed to a cush “lulu” position in the State Senate as Vice President Pro Tempore and serves as a lynchpin of the narrow Republican majority in the senate.  If Maziarz were to accept the designation for NY-26, it would alter the balance of power statewide.  Jimmy Vielkind of the Albany Times-Union has more on the potential side effects of a Maziarz designation.

Jane Corwin

State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin represents the Fightin’ 142nd Assembly District, which covers parts of Erie and Niagara Counties.   Corwin has experience following disgraced Republicans into office, so she has that going for her, which is nice.  Jane defeated Assemblyman Mike Cole in the 2008 primary after Cole was formally censured by the New York State Assembly. He admitted to drinking excessively with a student intern and then spending the night in her apartment.

After a career of working at her father’s company, inheriting money and serving on charitable boards, Corwin served as the Assistant Treasurer of the Collins For Our Future campaign and was rewarded for her support by being pushed into the Assembly seat by the aforementioned Collins.  Did that sound dismissive enough?  Good.  That’s what I was going for.  She has been a reliable conservative vote on issues close to the hearts of right wingers everywhere.  You can check out her ideological positions by clicking here.  Good news for you people who hate the environment, she loves hydrofracking!

Most importantly, as an entitled millionaire who earned her money the old fashioned way, she is the perfect choice for the designation.  She can self fund this special election and she has enough money in the bank to take on whomever she’ll have to face in 2012 when NY-26, NY-27, and NY-28 are collapsed into two after redistricting.

Democratic Frontrunners (Pretty short bench for this race)

Mark Poloncarz

Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz has not stated privately or publicly that he is interested in the race, but he has the name recognition required to start the campaign.  In 2005, Poloncarz won a county-wide office that had been under Republican control for three decades.

Mark has a pretty solid record of fiscal conservatism and good government ethics while developing a reputation as a fighter after nearly four years of daily battles with the County Executive.  Not a lot to go on policy-wise as he is the beancounter for the Erie County and rarely stakes out positions aside from fiscal issues, but Mark is known to be a solid progressive and is popular with the netroots.  He polls very well in the outer suburbs of Erie County and would be a dangerous candidate for any opponent.

Kathy Hochul

In 2010, Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul won re-election to her office and is rumored to be interested in the Erie County Executive position as well as the designation in NY-26.  Recent polling data gives her very high marks for likability, name recognition, and credibility.  As Erie County Clerk, she hasn’t taken many positions on matters of public policy, but she has stepped out on occasion to assert herself in the public eye.  Most notably, Hochul challenged Former Governor Eliot Spitzer on his plan to to issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.  Hochul is not viewed as a “progressive” by the netroots/activist class, but she is a qualified, professional government executive.  Can she raise the money for the race?  Can she put together the organization required to run in a district as large as NY-26?

Jon Powers

A 2008 democratic candidate in NY-26, Powers lost in a three way primary to local businessman/soup fanatic Jack Davis and environmental attorney Alice Kryzan.  Powers was widely seen as an ideal candidate due to his military experience, educational background and dreamy good looks.  However, after losing the primary, Mr. Powers quickly left WNY for a job with a progressive national security think tank in Washington D.C. and is currently employed as a Special Advisor on Energy to the US Army.

Powers also burned some bridges on his way out of town by not giving up his Working Families Party line to Kryzan after she won the Democratic Primary. This alienated local Democrats and WFP officials alike.  Powers faces a massive uphill climb if he is interested in the race.  Most notably, the perception that he was a “carpetbagger” who parachuted back into WNY in 2008 only to run for Congress, which was solidified when he immediately moved to DC after losing in the primary.  He would need to assemble an organization, raise six figures of money in a hurry and mend some serious fences.  An unlikely candidate.

The Backbench Candidates:

Let’s dispense with the candidates who are just happy to have their name included in the discussion; Assemblyman Jim Hayes (R, Williamsville) Erie County Legislator Ed Rath (R, Amherst), Erie County Legislator Ray Walter (R, Clarence) and Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks (R, Fairport).

Due to the weighted vote favoring candidates from Erie or Niagara County, Brooks starts out with a massive disadvantage but she is a leading compromise candidate.

Hayes is usually rumored to be a candidate when positions open up, but it appears he likes his comfortable position as a high ranking minority legislator in Albany.

Walter and Rath are relative newcomers to elective politics, but if the Collins and Reynolds factions cannot agree on a candidate and Brooks cannot secure support, one of them could emerge as a potential compromise candidate.  Rath, by nature of his Mother’s name recognition and reputation and Walter by nature of his strong right wing fiscal positions, likability and ties to Collins.

Due to her fat bank account and relationship with Chris Collins, I suspect we’ll see Jane Corwin emerge as the Republican candidate and she’ll be difficult to beat.  It looks as if Kathy Hochul will emerge as the Democratic candidate and her only real limitation would be raising enough money to compete with Corwin.

If a respectable candidate is identified who can raise in the neighborhood of $200-500K on short notice, the DCCC will reportedly inject a serious amount of cash into this race.  Even in a right leaning district, a centrist technocrat like Hochul could steal the seat for the Democrats.  So, can Kathy turn around a quick fundraising operation to get the necessary national support?

Did I just write 1800 words about this race?  YOU’RE GOD DAMNED RIGHT I DID! If you read all the way to the end, you get a prize…an autographed picture of Marc Odien!  Please send a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope to:

Self Loathing Political Nerds Anonymous

327 Niagara Street

Buffalo, NY 14201

21 Responses to “The Latest News in #NY26”

  1. Brian February 10, 2011 at 5:27 am #

    What’s with “family values” Republicans?  Ensign, paying 10 times for his whore as Spitzer did for his.  David (Diaper) Vitter.  Ted (Buggery and Meth) Haggard. Chris Lee.  Are they ALL perverts, as well as being liars, hypocrites, and, let’s admit it, murderers?  (When people die because you failed to provide heat, shelter, food, or medical care, you’re responsible, or, as Jesus said, you’re a goat.)

  2. Tom Dolina February 10, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    I’m am so mailing a self addressed stamped envelope…

  3. bud boomer February 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

    those shorts don’t leave much to the imagination!

    • Christopher Smith February 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

      If I’m going to post goofy pictures of everyone else, I should be fair and subject myself to some ridicule.

  4. Tom Marcheson February 10, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    The Konst angle is ludicrous.  She flipped on the party and works for Collinsw, no way in hell she could assemble the Dem support in that race.  Self-serving nonsense.  Hochul or Poloncarz could both make this a race, lets stop wasting time with wishing well candidates like Hochul, Powers and Bill Burton.

  5. Leo Wilson February 10, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    So, you’re thinking Poloncarz v. Corwin? Interesting, should be a good race.

    Hydrofracking: make a decision. Current uncertainty is getting in the way of my plans for building, as I want this issue to be decided before I pay anyone to dig deep wells for geothermal. And, it IS a potential revenue stream for NYS that doesn’t reach in my pocket.

  6. John Shapiro February 10, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    I think he’s saying it’s Hochul v. Corwin in this race. I think that will be a tough race for both women, they’re solid with their respective bases, but Hochul probably has more cross-party appeal than Jane does. The sooner this is settled, the better.

  7. Jackson Smiles February 10, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Wait a minute… Powers parachuted into the region and then hopped the first train out?? Wasn’t the guy born & raised in WNY?? He left for college and then served overseas in the army. How is that jumping in and then bailing? If you read anything on the last race he also had to leave the state to legally not be considered on the ballot for the WFP, the courts wouldn’t remove his name. Where you awake during that race? It will probably be Hochul vs Corwin in the ultimate “fake smile” contest, but get your other facts straight.

    • Christopher Smith February 10, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

      Yes, I was awake during the last election, I wrote nearly 40 articles about it and covered the race extensively. In this article, I labeled the guy as a frontrunner and said it was a perceived carpetbagger label, what more do you want? Perhaps you don’t remember the attacks leveled against him in the election about that very issue. The attacks on his War Kids Relief organization, that he wasn’t from here, the perception that he was only here to run for Congress. That perception of him only being here for a Congressional run was only solidified when he immediately left the region after the election. You don’t remember any of that?

      He sat on the WFP nomination for a solid month, saying he was exploring what he would do next even though he knew he was headed out of town immediately? Let’s recall that the decision from the federal panel to NOT remove him from the ballot line was based on an equal protection issue as absentee and military voters would not have had the opportunity to vote for Kryzan on the WFP line. This was because Jon didn’t attempt to get off the ballot for over a month, after absentee and overseas ballots with him on the line were sent out. Can’t have two separate ballots in the same race. Many WFP activists in the region that I know were irritated with him then and are irritated with him now. Could he overcome that? Absolutely, but its just another obstacle to overcome.

      He needs to put together a lot of money to face a candidate who can self-fund a couple of million dollars without blinking, repair some relationships, rebuild his brand, address some of these perceptions and put together a ground team in a district that heavily favors an Erie County based Democrat. If you think its gonna be easy to do all of that within a month or so, while he is still employed in Washington, well, good for you.

  8. Jackson Smiles February 10, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Side note – does anyone else find it hilarious that blog refuses to post about this??? They couldn’t shut up about how much they hated Powers, Kryzan, and Davis… not their pretty boy Lee is gone they won’t say a peep.

  9. JJLancaster February 10, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    You guys get away with a lot of bold comments.  Being from Lancaster, Konst has been a good rep (and friend).  So she worked for Collins–she’s still getting things done–has changed environmental policy and kept her core beliefs without being stuck fighting in the leg.  There were legalities and challenges after the GOP falsely reported on her husband, the elction voting scandals and did those robocalls.  You guys should be carefu…she’s took legal action in the past.  One of her former staffers is my neighbor and told me she’s not announcing but her phone has been ringing off the hook.

    Another thing, she’s the only Dem to EVER win her legislative district, which sits in the congressional district.  She’s also a blue dog- the only type that can win this seat.  

    It’s obvious you have some personal issues with her.  But, making nonsense claims will only hurt the party.  You want a seat won, right?  Well, none of the other choices have a chance.  Look at the statistics.

    • Christopher Smith February 11, 2011 at 12:01 am #

      I think saying “she worked for Collins” is underselling the situation just a bit, don’t you think? You make it seem as if it was just happenstance that she stumbled into a job in his administration. She was pissed off about how the party treated her, screwed them over in the legislature election, handed the seat (and control of the EC Legislature to Collins) then immediately took up residence in a six figure job in his administration. She bears a significant amount of blame for the shitstorm that has ensued in the legislature since that all went down.

      Was she a good reformist legislator back in 2006? Yes, absolutely, I endorsed her, canvassed for her and supported her. However, she lined up with Pigeon/Golisano in the state senate race who ultimately left her for dead when allegations surfaced that her family situation was a trainwreck with allegations of multiple residences and multiple votes in various states, her husband’s financial issues, etc. Can she win some magical 7-8% of the total vote in the rural counties? Maybe, but it doesn’t mean that Hochul, Poloncarz, Powers, or Manna could as well. It also doesn’t matter as she needs the certifications of the Democratic county chairs in the district in order to run and they have all said “No fucking way”. She’s wanted NY-26 for quite some time, too bad she let her career get out of hand and she made some poor choices that have consequences.

  10. NY26 Voter February 10, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    Hochul the best chance for the Democrats? I don’t know about that. She seems like a nice woman and all, but I see zero cross over appeal, plus a severe lack of name recognition outside Erie County. Not to mention, she’s gonna struggle to raise the serious amounts of cash required.

    Same problem with Poloncarz. Does he have name recognition outside Erie County? A special election provides such a small window of time. There is no time to waste building up name identification. The Dems need someone to hit the ground running and to raise big money starting immediately if they have any shot at taking this seat.

    Powers? There are some issues with a Powers candidacy, but nothing that can’t be beaten back. He has proven fund raising ability and high name ID. I’m not totally sure yet, but in my opinion, he’s the Dems best bet.

    Chris – i’m not sure what you’re talking about when you say he parachuted into the district in 2008, but that’s incorrect. Also, as far as the “carpetbagging” this year, it would come up for sure, but it is not as if he was some lobbyist in DC. He is fighting for veterans at the Pentagon. The carpetbagging argument can be beaten.

    So, like I said – I really do think Powers is the best bet. A likable moderate with fund raising credentials sounds pretty good.

    Will he run though? Unfortunately, I have a feeling he will not and like Chris said, Hochul will be the one. She will almost definitely lose quite handily though.

  11. Brian February 11, 2011 at 5:58 am #

    I’m just hoping the Repub candidate is as laughable as Paladino, Collins, or Lee.  Maybe a thing for miniature horses?  Corpses?  Amputee strippers?

  12. Jackson Smiles February 11, 2011 at 6:43 am #

    Obviously you weren’t that good in your research… the attacks that he wasn’t from here? He was born in Buffalo and graduated high school from the area. There weren’t any attacks that he wasn’t a WNY’er born and raised. There were attacks on the kids charity, but that type of stuff is to be expected in politics. Take a candidates strongest card play it against him. Or like Domglowski saying being in the military isn’t a real job. Your exact statement above ends: “after he parachuted into the region to run for Congress in 2008 and hopped on the first train out of town after losing.” You state a percieved cartpetbagger, then feed into the fact that make it look like he’s not from here. You admit you know that is a false statement. So you admit you’re wrong and you print false statements. What other candidate statements are false that you print as truth and don’t correct?

    • Christopher Smith February 11, 2011 at 9:53 am #

      @Jackson, I think what I am most guilty of is poor wording in the article around the carpetbagger issue. Let me rephrase it in the comments, which I will then copy into the article in order to make my intent clearer to the reader.

      As originally written:

      Powers faces a massive uphill climb if he is interested in the race, most notably the perceived carpetbagger label after he parachuted into the region to run for Congress in 2008 and hopped on the first train out of town after losing.

      As revised and more in line with my actual point:

      Powers faces a massive uphill climb if he is interested in the race. Most notably, the perception that he was a “carpetbagger” who parachuted back into WNY in 2008 only to run for Congress, which was solidified when he immediately moved to DC after losing in the primary

      That accusation, that he was only here to run for Congress, was used quite often. If he had stayed here after the election to start a family and find work, it wouldn’t have stuck. However, he took a job with a think tank in DC immediately after the election and has lived and worked there ever since. If that’s what he wanted to do professionally, good for him. But it does not demonstrate that he is invested in this community for the long haul. How involved has Powers been in the political scene back in WNY or in working to solve the economic challenges we collectively face in the region? If you don’t think this would be the first attack line from the likes of Chris Collins and the National Republican apparatus, you’re being purposefully ignorant.

      Also, I would hardly claim that the War Kids Relief organization was a strength for Jon, it was more of a liability. His military service and profile from the film were his strengths.

      Listen, Jon is a nice guy. I’ve spoken with him since he lost the election, I like him and I wish him the best. I’m proud of the work he has done since he left WNY and I hope he continues to advocate for energy solutions as a national security issue. While he has a lot of positives as a candidate, in a short term special election, his negatives are pretty tough to overcome. If he is interested in running for office in WNY in the future, he should at least maintain a public profile in the region and advocate for some issues to improve the general condition.

      While this is a left-leaning website, we still like to trade in honest criticism here and Powers isn’t as strong a candidate as his fan club (most of whom are looking for work) would make it seem.

  13. Jackson Smiles February 11, 2011 at 6:44 am #

    Can we assume that since your living in California your opinions just don’t matter to WNY?? How would that make you feel about the situation?

  14. Leo Wilson February 11, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    @Brian – careful what you ask for – you may get it. Of the three people you mention, only Paladino actually lost an election. Collins and Lee both won.

  15. Christopher Smith February 11, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    Jackson, in reference to your comment about California. Yes, living in California and opining from afar does not carry much weight with me. Typically, I shrug off input from people who are unwilling to put skin in the game. Living here, voting, paying taxes, being involved in on-the-ground organizing carries much more weight with me and with others locally.

  16. Mike In WNY February 12, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    IMO, Hochul is a very qualified administrator. She has masterfully improved the DMV operation. She needs to stick with what she does best, being the Erie County Clerk.

  17. Jackson Smiles February 18, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    Didn’t Powers take the job in DC to get off the WFP ballot for the Democrats? Are you saying most of his supporters are looking for work? That’s a bold assumption and pretty demeaning to the people of WNY. Stay in California and keep your opinions there too.

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