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Szalkowski Drops Out, Mychajliw Pitches Fit

12 Jul

Erie County Comptroller candidate Lynn Szalkowski dropped out yesterday, the day petitions were due. Her name appeared on Democratic nominating petitions that have been circulated throughout Erie County for the past several weeks because she was the candidate whom the party had recruited to run. As it turns out, she had second thoughts and effectively dropped out of the race weeks ago. That posed a problem for the party, because the only way to keep the ballot line alive for November would be to keep circulating her petitions and then let a committee replace her when she formally drops out. That’s what’s about to happen in the next week or so.

Just about every news story everywhere has made the point that Ms. Szalkowski has suffered some personal tragedies in recent weeks, and that she may also have some sort of personal health issue. While her Facebook page shows her doing fun things with friends and her kids, that doesn’t necessarily mean she isn’t also tackling some sort of health problem. People live with chronic pain and disease all the time yet are still able to go out and maintain some semblance of a normal life – it doesn’t mean they also have the energy or will to go out and attend every chicken BBQ and every fundraiser and every debate as part of a grueling, months-long campaign for a countywide office.

So, when she dropped out yesterday, her putative opponent, incumbent Stefan Mychajliw, took to Facebook to comment on the situation. Before becoming Comptroller, Mychajliw was the owner of a public relations firm. As a public relations professional, I would likely counsel a candidate to take the high road, and leave the backhanded smacks and insults for surrogates.

In other words, Mychajliw’s Facebook post or whatever other public statement he made should have read something like this:

I am disappointed to learn that Ms. Szalkowski has decided not to accept her party’s nomination to run for Erie County Comptroller on the Democratic line. I am proud of my accomplishments over the last several months, and looked forward to a lively campaign on the issues. I wish Ms. Szalkowski and her family well, and look forward to running a positive campaign against whomever the Democrats select as their candidate.

Because, honestly, Mychajliw shouldn’t necessarily care who runs against him, or what the internal Democratic party machinations and intrigue might be. He is running to win in November, and he’ll take all comers, right?

Well, instead of some sort of gracious send-off, Mychajliw inexplicably spat this venom at the Democratic committee:

I don’t quite understand why this makes Mr. Mychajliw so upset, and why he didn’t so much as wish Ms. Szalkowski well, whatever his feelings are about the legal process that results from a candidate dropping out of a race. The party committee recruited Szalkowski, and it will now have to recruit someone else. It’s really six of one, half-dozen of the other, and Mychajliw’s Facebook excreta seems utterly classless to me.

Maybe Mychajliw’s office could trick a custodian into letting them into the locked basement room in the Rath Building where the Democrats keep all the Comptroller candidates.