Tag Archives: Chris Grant

How Hochul Won #NY26

25 May

Today, the local spin masters are out in force, explaining how Kathy Hochul, Democrat, was able to beat Republibot5000 Jane Corwin for a Congressional seat once held by Jack Kemp and Tom Reynolds.

Republicans believe the reason that Corwin lost is clear; Jack Davis. Corwin and her surrogates assert that Davis appealed to independent and conservative voters in the district…in other words, a vote for Davis, would’ve been a vote for Corwin. When asked for comment on this assertion, Jack Davis replied with the following:

However, the numbers do not back up the Republican position. As the support for Jack Davis eroded in the last two weeks of the race from 23% in a Siena Poll to 9% in the election booth, the majority of those votes broke for Kathy Hochul. Using the final poll numbers, if Davis had not been in the race, Corwin would’ve needed to receive 76% of Davis’s votes to overcome Hochul’s margin of victory. That does not fit with the overall trend of the race.

Last night, several Republicans argued that if the race had been Hochul/Corwin, the results would have resembled the 2006 Davis/Reynolds election. Hochul received roughly the same percentage of the vote as Davis did in 2006 and Corwin would’ve received the same support as Reynolds did. Firstly, if the queen had balls, she’d be the king.  Secondly, Hochul was a much better candidate with an energized base and a competent field operation, two things Davis never had. For instance, in 2006, Reynolds beat Davis in Livingston County by a margin of 60-40. In 2011, it was a dead heat. Hochul picked away at the margins in the fringes of the district while shoring up her base in Erie County.  Thirdly, Medicare.

Which brings us to the national spin from the Democrats, that this election was a referendum on the Paul Ryan budget which would’ve turned Medicare into an episode of “Extreme Couponing” whilst giving massive tax breaks to people like Jane Corwin. Unsurprisingly, the voters in the rural areas of the district and the working middle class families of Erie and Monroe counties thought this was a pretty shitty proposal.

So, was Hochul’s win due to the Medicare issue? Yes and no. I haven’t seen any objective exit polling data to support that position, but it’s clear through anecdotal voter information and pre-election polling that it was a major factor.

Most importantly, this came down to campaign organization, messaging and field operations…as it always does.  The message is important, but the candidate who runs the tightest combined effort campaign ALWAYS wins.

Kathy Hochul took her time to assemble her campaign team, raise the necessary money, build support amongst the county chairpeople, reach out to important constituencies and gather grassroots support. She defined herself early in the race, stayed centered, never got rattled and ran a field operation with textbook precision.

Jane Corwin was rushed through the process because she could “self fund” and left a lot of the fundamental campaign organization to “her people”. Essentially, she outsourced her campaign “like a business”. She let tinpot Machiavellians like Nick Langworthy and Chris Grant run her operation into the ground. Their failures resulted in over $2MM of NRCC/Astroturf national republican money being spent on a race that should have been a cakewalk for the Republibot5000 candidate. Corwin should have stepped in and asserted leadership over her team, especially after “Operation: PunchOut” with Jack Davis, but she’s not that kind of politician.  And now she’s on her way back to oblivion as a minority member of the State Assembly, doomed to a life of ribbon cuttings and press conferences with the likes of Jim Hayes.

So, what’s next? A continued battle for the soul of the Republican Party in Erie County between Joel Giambra and Chris Collins. Leading to an exquisitely fun battle between Mark Poloncarz and Chris Collins for the office of Erie County Executive.  Collins’ braintrust, which fell on their face last night, are trying to sell Chris on the fact that they did a fine job and Jane would’ve won too, if it weren’t for that meddling Old Man Davis!

I’m sure Poloncarz is ready to prove them wrong…

How Corwin’s Dream Team Screwed Paladino

13 May

Evidence of Fraud?

The brain trust behind the ridiculous Corwin “campaign” is facing its first real test right now. Chris Grant (a former guest poster on this site) and Nick Langworthy, the Erie County Republican chairman, are known throughout the region and state, respectively, as wunderkinds who brilliantly navigated candidates such as Jane Corwin, Chris Collins, and Chris Lee to victory. They were part of the team that incredibly secured the Republican nomination for unlikely nominee and email enthusiast Carl Paladino.

There’s just one problem with the mythology there. They’ve never faced a credible opponent.

Jeff Bono? Alice Kryzan? Rick Lazio? Jim Keane? The only one of those who broke 40% was Kryzan. Barely.

With this week’s poorly planned, and horribly executed, failed effort to “gotcha” Jack Davis, the Corwin campaign and those running it are looking quite clownish. It’s amateur hour when your tracker ends up sounding like this.

But Chris Grant and Nick Langworthy have a history of apparently screwing their candidate.

A tipster clued me in this week to a story dating back to the Paladino campaign that was never revealed publicly involving both of Corwin’s brain trust.  I asked around and the story snowballed from there.

In the days leading up to the Republican primary in 2010, Paladino and the tea party wing supporting him (the “Taxpayer Party” line) were backing Air Force veteran and decorated former CIA officer Gary Berntsen for Senate, not professional political strategist Jay Townsend. People close to the situation allege that Chris Collins’ Chief of Staff Chris Grant and Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy deceived Carl Paladino and misappropriated his money to print a palm card endorsing the wrong US Senate candidate, Jay Townsend. Grant and Langworthy are now helping to run Corwin’s awful campaign.

Paladino confidants I spoke with allege that both Langworthy and Grant knew full well that Paladino was supporting Gary Berntsen, but that they conspired behind Carl’s back with Nick Sinatra and Roger Stone to deliberately mislead conservatives and tea partiers throughout New York State into thinking that Carl backed Townsend instead.

With full knowledge that Paladino was backing Berntsen, former Rove aide Nick Sinatra – a longtime family friend of Paladino’s – went behind Carl’s back and plotted with Stone, Grant, and Langworthy to replace Berntsen’s name and image with Townsend’s on palmcards to be distributed by conservative and tea party groups throughout New York State. This email is the smoking gun:

The PDF attached to the email is the image at the top of this post.

Grant sent the palmcard to Langworthy, who sent it to Sinatra, who sent it to Stone and Paladino petitions guru and federal indictee John Haggerty for printing.  They were printed by Keller Brothers printing in Buffalo at a cost likely exceeding $5,000, which, if accurate, would make this a felony fraud.  Langworthy and Grant did not respond to emails asking for their side of the story, or some comment.

Feelings about this issue are still raw. TEA New York (Palinists) sent this out in March to their email list:

Commandos & Mercenaries

Former Iraq War commander Gary Berntsen has come out in full support of fellow veteran David Bellavia for the Special Election in the 26th CD.  We love David too, but are reticent to endorse, as the TEA Party doesn’t generally support third party candidates, for fear of splitting the line, and handing the seat to the least favorable of all contenders.  You’ll remember that Gary Berntsen was the US Senate candidate that opposed Chuckie Schumer, and was listed on the Taxpayer petition along with the rest of the Paladino team of candidates.  Well, a few people in Carl’s campaign, some paid, apparently fancied themselves independent political operatives and clandestine master manipulators, and spent a small fortune of Carl’s money WITHOUT HIS KNOWLEDGE OR APPROVAL, for a large lit drop naming Jay Townsend as the Paladino endorsed candidate.  We caught wind and squelched the effort as best we could, and Carl issued an urgent press release confirming Berntsen as the Paladino endorsed candidate.  But a Langworthy/GOP rally featuring Townsend along with Carl only served to reinforce support for Townsend, confuse others, and ultimately split the votes between Townsend and Berntsen.  Townsend was getting similar support from RINO leaders around state, and went on the win the Primary, but lost in the General Election. Bernsten got screwed by the Republicans, and now he has assembled a sizable army that have come up from Long Island to gather signatures for Bellavia.  At this writing, they have met the minimum, and are now exceeding the number of signatures needed to run a third line, which is called the Federalist Party.

Berntsen was instrumental in the effort to help Bellavia get on the ballot in NY-26, an effort that failed due to a lack of money and a concerted effort by the Republicans to threaten anyone and everyone associated with Bellavia. Paladino was first made aware of this fraud one day before the September 2010 primary by a tea party activist in Staten Island, who angrily called the Paladino campaign to complain about the Townsend replacement.  The palmcards had been sent by Sinatra.  The tea party – especially Berntsen’s core supporters at the Long Island Conservative Society for Action – was pissed, as was Paladino,  who immediately and publicly expressed his support for Berntsen.

Paladino did not, however, recall the palm cards, and thousands were passed out to voters throughout western New York, and around the state.  It’s quite possible that this clever trickery cost Berntsen the primary.  Most of these cards ended up here, where turnout in the Republican primary was huge.

After all, at the time, Paladino was assured by the apparent wrongdoers that this was all just a printing error; that it was inadvertent.  It wasn’t until the email shown above was revealed many months later that the deception became evident.

Calls to the FBI were met with the standard, “we can neither confirm nor deny” that there is – or was – an investigation into this fraud. Emails to Grant and Langworthy seeking comment sent Thursday morning were not returned.  I did confirm that the FBI interviewed Berntsen, as well as others involved in the deceit. The authenticity of the email shown above has been confirmed through several sources who worked closely with the Paladino campaign, and is not in dispute.

Jane Corwin’s campaign should watch its back, and make sure it closely guards its checkbook.  As we’ve learned through the Bellavia whisper campaign, the failed set-up of Jack Davis by Corwin and Michael Mallia, there is no level quite too low for these guys to stoop to.  This, folks, is your Erie County Republican Party. These are the Keystone Kops who will soon be running the Collins re-election campaign.

Corwin and the ECGOP: Desperate, Scared, Violent (UPDATE: TRACKER IS CORWIN CHIEF OF STAFF)

12 May

****UPDATE:  REPUBLICAN FONZIE IS JANE CORWIN’S ASSEMBLY CHIEF OF STAFF MICHAEL L. MALLIA. WE PAY HIS SALARY ($1,419 biweekly).*** Another punk Republican kid suckling at the teat of mother Government.

Davis Bails on Channel 2

I understand why Jack Davis is backing out of the farcical Channel 2 non-debate.

First of all, who holds a political debate at 9 in the morning? Who’s watching a political debate at 9 in the morning? No one. At 9 in the morning, most people are at work. Ah, but Channel 2 will be rebroadcasting it at 12 noon, as well! It will even be simulcast on WECK 1230-AM at that time. Well, that’s also not really a very convenient time for people to watch or listen to a political debate, because people are at work. Some might opt to watch online at their desks during their lunch hour, but it’s supposed to be another gloriously sunny 70 degree day.

Under normal circumstances, a normal television station would do what serious television stations usually do and air the debate during prime time, when people are home, and when most people are done with dinner.

I checked, and apparently Channel 2 doesn’t want to pre-empt an all-new Community, and an Office repeat with a local congressional debate.

So, take it with a boulder of salt when Channel 2 disinvites Ian Murphy from participating because he wrote satire in the satirical paper for which he works – satire that poked fun at Channel 2 anchor Scott Levin. They didn’t disinvite Murphy because he’s not a serious candidate, but because they were butthurt. I don’t think “butthurt” is a good reason to exclude a legitimate political candidate, no matter how silly he may be in his satirical paper.

Channel 2 isn’t holding a serious debate because no one’s going to watch it. They’ll play some sound bites during their newscasts, and that’s about all that most voters will glean from this thing. You’ll have to seek out the video on their barely navigable website to watch the whole thing in dribs and drabs. Fail.

Baiting Davis

It’s also become quite evident that there is nothing scarier and more serious to the Erie County GOP than the fact that Jack Davis is polling in the mid-20s. They’re quite palpably freaking out over this, and they’re pulling out all the stops to destroy Davis, practically ignoring Kathy Hochul in the process. Yesterday I linked to the Karl Rove-backed video that you’ll soon be very sick of. Corwin’s campaign, led by supposed Buffalo Republican wunderkinds Nick Langworthy and Chris Grant, is panicking because this should have been a cakewalk like Lee vs. Kryzan in 2008 and Lee vs. nobody in 2010.

Davis doesn’t perform well in debates and he isn’t warm and fuzzy. The more he’s seen by voters, the less they like him. I’ve seen him debate in person on several occasions, and he’s just lousy at it. So, it’s no surprise that he pulled out of Channel 2’s “debate” today. The GOP lashed him over it, saying he can’t “be trusted” or some such nonsense.

Then yesterday evening, at David Bellavia’s event to endorse Jack Davis (and, in turn, begin his epic life’s work to motherf*ck Nick Langworthy and Chris Grant), the GOP sent someone to harass him (it worked well with the Mike Madigan video a few weeks ago).

[HTML1]

This is edited down to high heaven and you can’t figure out what’s happening, why it happened, or who’s harassing Jack. I don’t see Jack hitting anyone in this video, but someone off-screen shoves the cameraman who dramatically grunts for effect. A lot of shaky camerawork and bad acting. I’d like to see this within context, unedited. The Davis campaign should hire someone to track its trackers.

David Bellavia tweeted:

The tweet has since been removed changed (UPDATE).

[HTML2]

And a similar sentiment was posted to his Facebook page:

The Corwin campaign is desperate because its candidate came out in favor of obliterating Medicare, has a thin resume, is lying about her resume, is something of an empty container spouting GOP talking points, and is otherwise not thought of either negatively or positively in the region. By contrast, people either love or hate Davis, and most people think Hochul is the bee’s knees.

The Corwin campaign is desperate because its cakewalk is now riddled with roadblocks. She hasn’t been winning hearts and minds with her alleged ideas or positions, so she has to send out goons to harass cranky older candidates. She has to send out goons to threaten David Bellavia, and accuse him of wrongdoing. She has to send out goons to ruin David Bellavia’s life because he has the nerve to fight back.

What we’re witnessing from the party of Tom Reynolds, Chris Lee, Chris Collins, and Carl Paladino is thuggery that would seem right at home in Central American, Taiwanese, or Eastern European politics. Threats, goons, intimidation, and ruination of lives shouldn’t be part and parcel of political campaigns for a podunk congressional race in a podunk part of a podunk region.

Shame on the Erie County Republican Party, and shame on anyone who doesn’t condemn this disgraceful, dictatorial, violent thuggery. It failed in making Davis look bad. It made a desperate Corwin campaign and a scared ECGOP outfit (the one that’s supposed to cruise the detested Chris Collins to re-election) look bad, instead.

#NY26: Bellavia, Twitter & Murphy

29 Mar

David Bellavia appears to have disqualified himself from running for congress by failing to timely submit a form accepting his nomination from the “Federalist Party”. After all that, he’s off the ballot because he couldn’t follow the rules?

The problem for Bellavia is that he (a) either took a deal of some sort to remove himself from the ballot after all, or (b) can’t get it together to follow the rules. Either way, it’s not good. With that said, I think that the Election Law should be construed liberally (ironic, when discussing a conservative candidate), and that there should be a presumption in favor of including Bellavia on the ballot; he shouldn’t be disqualified for failing to file a form a day late. The rules, after all, are deliberately Byzantine to help keep people like him off the ballot.

I received a robocall yesterday from the execrable Jack Davis campaign, asking me to call his campaign with any ideas. Click here to listen to the call. He sounds all grandfatherly and sincere as he asks you to basically give him ideas about what his platform should be. Aside from hating on foreigners, that is.

Twitter has become a new sort of battleground for campaigns, and every candidate except the Green Party’s Ian Murphy is being parodied by a fake Twitter account. The fun started with fake Jack Davis

[HTML1]

followed by fake Jane Corwin, (no Tweets yet), and topped off by fake Kathy Hochul

[HTML3]

There’s even a fake Chris Collins for his countywide race.

[HTML2]

Sometimes, fake Collins’ Tweets are given support by the guy jokingly referred to around the Rath Building as County Executive Loomis:

[HTML4]

Finally, there’s been some buzz in the last day about Jane Corwin’s flip-flop on high speed rail for upstate. As an Albany pol, she liked the idea of high speed rail linking western New York with Albany, New York City, Boston, and Toronto. With gas prices rising and airports a hassle, now is a great time to examine the possibility of whizzing people around the Northeast with the speed and efficiency seen all throughout the rest of the industrialized world.

But when campaigning for Congress, it seems that good ideas fall by the wayside in favor of tea partyish nonsense, pretending that a big investment in infrastructure improvement doesn’t create private sector jobs and motivate the economy. The whole flip-flop reminded me of this three week-old post:

It was also revealed that Chris Collins appointee Chris Grant – who once upon a time did occasional guest-blogging stints for this very blog right here – took an unpaid leave to go work for the Corwin campaign. As I described in Chris Charvella’s comments section here, earlier this week Chris Grant engaged me on Twitter about an effort led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for New York to accept federal money for high speed rail that Florida has rejected. Grant replied that federal local reps should have competed for that money in the first place. I agreed, citing the fact that Mr. Christopher Lee probably could have worked harder for it too, were it not for his Craigslist preoccupation.

He then accused me of blaming the Republicans for everything, to which I responded – earnestly – that I thought Republicans were against EVERY PORTION of Obama’s StimuSocialismKenya plan, and that I was somewhat surprised (pleasantly) to see him advocate in favor of high speed rail funding for New York.

Grant’s Tweets on the subject then mysteriously disappeared. Would that I had taken a screencap. Because I think it’s significant for a candidate when her campaign manager is busy on Twitter arguing in favor of Obama’s stimulus plan and its application for high speed rail throughout New York State.

In the meantime, Ian Murphy has been mounting an unsurprisingly sarcastic and funny, but surprisingly substantive campaign talking about issues that will resonate with progressive types. He’s the only candidate who has brought up the fact that certain American corporations – profitable corporations that have seen billions of dollars in profits – make it their business to avoid paying a cent in taxes on that profit. We can talk all day about how our corporate tax rate should be like Ireland’s, but why would we do that? Politicians’ races are funded by these big corporations whose lobbyists ask for changes to laws that benefit them, and there’s no political will to change the status quo because everyone’s happy. Yet Bank of America – bailout recipient – made $4.4 billion in profit last year and will not pay a dime in taxes.  General Electric’s worldwide profit was $14.2 billion, $5.2 billion of which was from solely American business activity. GE won’t pay a dime in taxes, instead receiving a refund.  If you want to talk about reducing deficits and paying for important programs that provide medical care to those who need it, and improve our infrastructure, how about we start with changing the rules so that even corporations pay their fare share of taxes like you do?

So far, when it comes to talking about important issues, the advantage goes to the “joke” candidate, Ian Murphy of the Buffalo Beast.

NY-26 Called for May 24th (UPDATED)

10 Mar

Thanks, Chris Lee, for making 2011 interesting

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo called the special election to replace the disgraced shirtless online tranny hunter, Chris Lee. It’s been admittedly funny watching the regional Republicans, who slammed Jane Corwin through an abbreviated process, cajole and criticize (1) Cuomo for waiting to call the election until he had a bill passed to help absentee and military voters ensure that their votes are counted; (2) Democrats for not having rammed their own candidate through their own abbreviated process even though no election had been called; and (3) Nancy Pelosi, because she was once the Speaker of the House, and because she’s a woman with a funny-sounding ethnic name ending in a vowel that gets WASPy Republicans reflexively angry.

Over the past couple of weeks I had heard very loud rumors building – from Republican sources – that Jane Corwin had what’s been called a “nanny problem” involving an undocumented immigrant for whom taxes were not paid. A mulleted radio host devoted a show to the topic, albeit blindly, last week, and your humble blogger pulled out all the stops to try and get details about the allegations. It’s one of those issues where everyone knows there’s a problem, but there’s no real way to verify it. So I didn’t run it, because Corwin’s campaign didn’t deign to give some leftist blogger a denial. But if you look at the Corwin campaign’s excruciatingly, painfully careful language in the denial that it ultimately issued early this week, it’s quite clear that there is a “there there”, but that the matter has been successfully buried, and the press release is drawn up in such a way that (1) no one will ever know the truth; and (2) if someone, somehow, manages to track down a Honduran housekeeper who once worked for Mrs. Jane, the campaign can point to its denial and claim it didn’t lie.  Let’s parse.

Jane and (her husband, Philip M. Corwin) do not currently employ a live-in nanny, have never employed a live-in nanny and have never employed anyone in the country illegally.

No one said it was “currently”, no one said it was “live-in” and no one said it was a “nanny”.  It is quite possible with this language that they once employed a non-live-in housekeeper.  “Employed” is a technical term; it is quite possible with this language that they retained the services of an independent contractor who was an undocumented immigrant.

They have always conducted their business with the utmost integrity and have always followed both the intent and the letter of the law.

Ah, yes, but the family “business” was the Talking Phone Book. The paragraph above in no way addresses the Corwins’ management of household help.

It was also revealed that Chris Collins appointee Chris Grant – who once upon a time did occasional guest-blogging stints for this very blog right here – took an unpaid leave to go work for the Corwin campaign. As I described in Chris Charvella’s comments section here, earlier this week Chris Grant engaged me on Twitter about an effort led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for New York to accept federal money for high speed rail that Florida has rejected. Grant replied that federal local reps should have competed for that money in the first place. I agreed, citing the fact that Mr. Christopher Lee probably could have worked harder for it too, were it not for his Craigslist preoccupation.

He then accused me of blaming the Republicans for everything, to which I responded – earnestly – that I thought Republicans were against EVERY PORTION of Obama’s StimuSocialismKenya plan, and that I was somewhat surprised (pleasantly) to see him advocate in favor of high speed rail funding for New York.

Grant’s Tweets on the subject then mysteriously disappeared. Would that I had taken a screencap. Because I think it’s significant for a candidate when her campaign manager is busy on Twitter arguing in favor of Obama’s stimulus plan and its application for high speed rail throughout New York State.

Finally, the Democrats outlined their process for the NY-26 selection process, which will take place via phone interview on March 12th and in-person interviews in Geneseo on March 19th. From their press release,

Our process is moving forward and has been open and inclusive. We are incredibly excited and energized, and are confident we will have the strongest possible candidate to serve the people of the 26th District.”

The following candidates each submitted a resume and cover letter by our March 3 submission deadline:

Jane Bauch-Orleans County, Kathy Hochul-Erie County, Mark Manna-Erie County, Martin Minemier-Monroe County, Satish Mohan-Erie County, Robert Stall-Erie County, Diana Voit-Erie County

Let me say that I am particularly intrigued and interested in Mark Manna, who is a young, smart Amherst legislator who I think would be a great Congressman from the 26th District.