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Cuomo and his Malcontents

26 Nov

The Buffalo News’ mustachioed Pigeon transcription service advises that an effort is underway to unify the county Democratic committee by effectively overturning the result of the election of Jeremy Zellner as its head, and by pacifying and appeasing the Steve Pigeon faction of malignant malcontents, City Hall, and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Remember when Illuzzi used to be the go-to guy for this crap, may he rest in peace? 

All of this is supposed to come to a pointless and idiotic head on Tuesday night when the various town Democratic committee chairs will meet in Lackawanna. There will be an effort mounted there to have the chairs consider and condemn Zellner with a vote of “no confidence”.  The story being peddled was that Dennis Gorski – from whose political machine Mayor Byron Brown and his Deputy Steve Casey arose – would take Zellner’s place as a “consensus” candidate.  Governor Cuomo supposedly wants Zellner ejected before the end of the year, but Zellner has absolutely no intention of leaving, regardless of the carrots dangled in front of him, or the sticks used to beat him.  

Frankly, why should he? Pigeon spent the entire primary calendar destroying many committee-backed candidates, and then did nothing during the general election season. Exactly one candidate whom he helped – Barbara Miller-Williams – won in November. 

I suppose Obama could resign because a lot of people are angry that he won re-election in 2012. I suppose the President could just leave Washington to placate Republicans who despise him, and who have sabotaged his every everything. But that’s not how it works.

Knowing Pigeon’s penchant for coup-plotting (see Albany 2009, Erie County 2010), elections apparently don’t necessarily matter to him; only money and influence do. He bundles money for Cuomo, buying himself some influence with the governor, and tells him everything is awful in Erie County Democratic politics because Zellner. 

That Cuomo buys into this is unbelievable. By demanding Zellner’s ouster, a governor who is already not especially well-liked in WNY, threatens  further to destabilize the perpetually wobbly Jenga puzzle that is the county Democratic committee. Instead of forcing dissident groups to get with the program, he is aiding and abetting their effective dismantling of the committee apparatus, and replacing it with people who deserve no reward for their tactical sabotage and substantive emptiness. People backing Frank Max and Steve Pigeon have Cuomo’s ear, and are making noise about  opposing Zellner. Cuomo likely wants the noise to stop, but these patronage-hungry manipulators have been actively and passively sabotaging committee-backed Democrats for years. This is the crowd that wore red armbands in support of Max’s failed candidacy last year, with no hint of irony.

The story, alas, is bullshit. Gorski isn’t interested. There’s no real authority to do this at a town chair meeting. It’s just more elaborate manure-stirring from the usual suspects, seeking to deflect from their campaign finance irregularities and failure to take control of the committee by normal means. It’s about trying to wrest control over the dwindling number of patronage jobs that exist to be filled. It may be part of a threat to hand the Republicans a de facto supermajority in the legislature. No one knows what Pat Burke and Barbara Miller-Williams are going to do come the January re-org, but the latter has displayed a profound willingness to sell her allegiance to the highest bidder

It’s downright tedious to write these sorts of pieces over and over again. It’s always the same story, with the same core group of players, with the same base self-interests, and I know that if I’m tired of it, average readers just don’t care anymore. 

But you should care. This sort of infighting is what helps shape the outcome of primaries, which helps to shape how general elections are decided. Candidate recruitment and selection is a key component of what a county committee is supposed to do, and when you have malicious dissidents in your committee, that’s going to be very difficult indeed.