Tag Archives: David Bellavia

Wednesday War ‘n Politics

7 Mar

1. Congratulations to Mitt Romney, who won a couple of states in last night’s Super Tuesday. He appears to have become, at long last, the Republican’s nominee to take on Barack Obama in November. Santorum won a handful of states, and Gingrich won Georgia, which is enough to keep them around and just demolishing Romney day in and day out, but they don’t really have anywhere to go.

2. Incidentally, did you know that the Paladinoist / Palinist wing of the tea party club here in WNY held a Presidential straw poll of its own? Although Romney is very likely to win the New York primary, our plucky band of angry local wingnuts picked Rick Santorum.

3. The debate over what is to become with the Trico building is going to be the big development/preservation fight for the first half of this year. It’s already getting going, as an earlier post will attest. What’s unique about this particular battle is that most people agree that the Trico building is an historically significant landmark, and also that the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is something that’s great for the community and the source of a great many good jobs, and of a knowledge-based future Buffalo industry. It’s going to be a tough battle because it’ll be particularly hard for anyone to demonize or belittle anyone else. It’s also yet another ad hoc battle that we’re so used to, which pits people against each other, creates loads of rancor, and is generally sad and discouraging, regardless of who wins. While I recognize the historic importance of Trico, and the importance of its former factory, I also recognize that Trico is long gone, headquartered in Michigan, and making blades in Brownsville and Matamoros. The building is, to me, subjectively hideous – an eyesore, and refurbishing a former factory – regardless of how historically important – into a medical research facility is impractical, and something the BNMC simply doesn’t want to do. They want a 21st century facility, not a 19th century facility. This is before we even get to the environmental cleanup that any adaptive reuse would entail. My sympathies default to people, jobs, and the future.

4. The Valenti/Brocuglio dynamic duo is back in / still in WNY, depending on whom we’re talking about, and their residential landlord got shafted at Eden court in her eviction effort. The former owners of Valenti’s restaurant have until the end of March to move out of their home, and Judge Zittel did not order a judgment for back rent dating to December.

5. I remember watching the Little Rascals after school when I was a kid, those little unsupervised, depression-era scamps were often tussling with the truant officer. Perhaps it’s time that school districts with big absentee problems revisit this idea.

6. There was a lot of hubbub yesterday about a map released by a special master appointed by a federal judge to try and resolve the ongoing fight over congressional redistricting in New York. Locally, the issue was the fact that both Brian Higgins and Kathy Hochul reside within the redrawn 27th district. Suffice it to say, the court’s map is not in any way final, but it will be the default map should the parties be unable to come to a separate agreement. It happens every time, and acts as a catalyst to move negotiations forward. What does seem likely, however, is that Louise Slaughter’s district will be re-drawn to return her influence to the Rochester area only, and out of the Buffalo metro. NYS Judicial Redistricting Map

7. Ron Paul has won a whopping 47 delegates during this primary season. The margin of Romney’s lead over Santorum in the delegate race is more than 200 delegates. Why the hell is he still in the Presidential race?

8. In response to news that the government is looking to get rid of over 800 jobs at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve base, Republican Congressional candidate David Bellavia tweeted this:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/DavidBellavia/status/177124836504645633″%5D

Well, not really. I received a press release that Schumer, Gillibrand, Hochul, Slaughter, and Higgins jointly released, reading as follows:

“We call on the Air Force to reverse this decision and to identify a new mission for the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. As a united delegation, along with the support of Governor Cuomo, we will continue to fight to protect this base, the positions it supports, and the thousands of Western New Yorkers that rely on its services.

“The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is an essential part of our nation’s military force, and we will not rest in the effort to find a new mission.”

Furthermore, Republicans are usually very, very opposed to things like government stimulus of the economy and government employment vs. private sector employment. Somehow, those principles get thrown out the window whenever we’re talking about military spending. The truth is, the air base has a stimulative effect on the regional economy, and losing it diminish that. Also, it’s false to suggest that the local delegation isn’t working to keep that stimulus spending here.

9. Barack Obama is going to have an easy time running on his international affairs record, and sought yesterday to calm the rhetoric coming mostly from the right, agitating for a new war in the Persian Gulf, this time against Iran. Speaking of the unemployed Santorum, Gingrich, and Romney:

The president was withering in his retort. “Those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities,” Mr. Obama said. “They’re not commander in chief. When I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I’m reminded of the costs involved in war” — for those who go into combat, for national security and for the economy. “This is not a game,” he added. “And there’s nothing casual about it.”

“If some of these folks think that it’s time to launch a war, they should say so, and they should explain to the American people exactly why they would do that and what the consequences would be,” he said.

We need another war like we need another 2008 global financial meltdown. But not to be outdone, Senator John McCain suggested that we ought to bomb Syria due to the political and humanitarian crisis being created by the fascist Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on a months-long popular uprising. It may soon become time for military intervention in Syria, as we took part in in Libya. However, this would need to be a multilateral effort, with the Arab League taking the lead in demanding the intervention. Efforts to do that through the UN Security Council were unsuccessful, due to China’s and Russia’s positions as the permanent member protectors of brutal authoritarian regimes, and the veto that goes with it.

10. Jim Heaney interviews former ECHDC / Sabres guy Larry Quinn, who has some choice words for the risible “lighter, faster, cheaper” method of planning for the inner harbor.

Household Help to Remove Corwins’ Sour Grapes?

6 Jul

Corwin? More like Cor-LOSE...

Both major political parties in western New York, it seems, are going through some upheaval. The Democrats have been fractured into oft-warring factions since time immemorial, but a massive push by Governor Cuomo to broker peace has been largely successful, at least for the current election cycle. There has been some grumbling, but when the most popular governor in America tells you to knock it off, you probably will.

On the other hand, the Republicans are just now getting a taste of what “disunity” means. Chris Collins is a wholly unliked and unlikable personality, and his brain trust just got through handing Jane Corwin an incredible, epic loss to a Democrat in Tom Reynolds’ hand-made NY-26. The strife was on full display during this past weekend’s Hardline program on WBEN, with Dave Debo hosting former Erie County Executive (and no friend of Collins’) Joel Giambra, Artvoice’s Geoff Kelly, Rus Thompson by phone to talk tea party, and Michael Caputo, Paladino campaign manager also by phone to talk about how Collins’ people screwed Batavia Iraq War veteran David Bellavia.

The discussion was touched off by this Buffalo News article and this commentary, written by Caputo and posted to WBEN.com. Caputo made the point that, in his opinion, the young guys running the Erie County GOP and Collins’ campaign apparatus are blatantly anti-veteran, pointing to their treatment of Gary Berntsen in 2010, and David Bellavia in 2011.

After Caputo emailed a link to the WBEN commentary to his contact list, he received the following email from Assemblywoman Jane Corwin’s husband, Phil. (Phil is the treasurer for the Collins campaign):

On Tue, Jul 5, 2011 at 3:40 PM, philcorwin1@__.com wrote:
Michael,David Bellavia is a spoiled child who didn t get his way. I ve watched his public temper tantrum with disgust. He is also a liar who distorted my wife’s voting record. For the record she was the best candidate endorsed by Republican, Conservative, and Indepence parties based on her record in the Assembly, involvement in the Community and private sector job creation. David is a war hero and we all acknowledge it and respect him for his service but that doesn’t automatically make him a good person or a qualified candidate.

Take me off your email list and get a fucking life!

Phil Corwin

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

How about that! A demand that Caputo “get a fucking life” from an unemployed Range Rover Republican millionaire in the Chris Lee inheritance-mold. Remember: when Corwin says that Bellavia “didn’t get his way”, what that translates into is: Bellavia was promised the Republican nomination by Nick Langworthy in 2008 in exchange for Bellavia’s exit from the NY-26 race and endorsement of Chris Lee, along with a promise from Tom Reynolds that Langworthy would set up a PAC for that very reason. Seems as if Bellavia held up his end of the bargain, but the party apparatchiks lied. Twice, minimum. Phil Corwin likens Bellavia’s reaction to that breach an agreement to a “temper tantrum”.

Seems like he should know.

In response, Caputo sent the following to Mr. Corwin:

Phil:Until this email I thought you were a good guy, that you and your wife were just poorly served by a childish group of gutless punk kids. I believed you were above all the dirty tricks and so did David. But I was wrong: now I know you were a part of it, and you disgust me.Don’t tell me what David Bellavia said about Jane’s record; I know precisely what he said. He was truthful at all times, albeit in opposition. You have clearly never been in a competitive campaign because your sensitive skin is chafing.I know you don’t understand the honor and integrity inherent in a veteran’s service: you never deigned to serve your country. Many of us did that for you. We feel a man who is decorated for heroism – for taking bullets for your family, for watching his men die for your family, for holding the head of a friend as he gasped his last breath for your family – is far above the crap you, your wife and your sick allies in the Erie GOP pulled on him.

In fact, now that I know you and Jane were clearly behind all the dirty tricks, it may be time for a primary in Assembly District 142.

When a man fuels his campaign with integrity, he becomes the target of those who have none…

…Click on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of your email. Most folks understand that’s the easy and legal way to stop political mail, protected speech under the First Amendment. Maybe your butler can show you.

Finally, keep your foul language to yourself; it reveals your education. You’ve already shown your patriotism.

Don’t poke bears, Phil. They bite.

Sincerely,
Michael Caputo

There’s a battle being waged for the heart and soul of the local Republican Party – a war brought by those who see the Collins camp as dishonorable and led by a bunch of incompetents. Could Collins get his come-uppance this year due to his own hubris?

UPDATE: I inadvertently wrote that Phil Corwin is an “unemployed Range Rover Republican”. This ignores the fact that Mr. Corwin has an office on the 16th floor of the Manor Rath Building, as a Director of Noblesse-Oblige Vice-Chairman of the Erie County IDA. Even though he’s a dollar-a-year type of guy, he is not technically “unemployed” and reports directly to the man for whom he is the re-election campaign treasurer.

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).

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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).

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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.

NY-26: Heating Up, Full of Sweet Payback (UPDATED: LONSBERRY BAILS ON DAVIS)

11 May

David Bellavia is holding an event tonight where he’s expected to endorse a candidate whose name doesn’t begin with “Jane” or end with “Corwin”. By way of another hint, it’s also not Ian Murphy.

BELLAVIA TO HOST BIN LADEN KILL CELEBRATION FOR VETERANS

(Rochester, NY) – SSG David Bellavia (US Army, Ret.), a decorated combat veteran of the Iraq War, will host a “Salute to Veterans” party in Rochester on Wednesday night to celebrate the actions of the US Navy Seals who recently captured and killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Army Veteran and Rochester radio talk show host Bob Lonsberry will be master of ceremonies at the free chicken and pork barbecue buffet – a menu chosen to highlight the al Qaeda leader’s wretched life.

May 11, 2011

6:00 PM- 9:00 PM Barnard Exempts Restaurant & Party House
360 Maiden Lane Rochester, NY 14616

Lonsberry has already endorsed Davis, so there’s the best hint. (UPDATE: LONSBERRY RESCINDS HIS ENDORSEMENT OF JACK DAVIS) Bellavia was promised the Republican nomination for NY-26 in 2008 when he left the Republican primary to pave the way for Chris Lee, whom Bellavia actively supported. In exchange, Bellavia was promised the nomination next time around, when Lee left Congress. Well, Lee left Congress and Bellavia got screwed.  Not just screwed, but there was a massive whisper campaign started by Corwin loyalists to try to destroy Bellavia altogether.

Bellavia will be exacting his revenge over the next couple of weeks.

In other NY-26 developments:

 

 

 

The #NY26 Tweet-Campaign, and Bellavia’s Petitions

5 Apr

Twitter has become a microcosm of the race for NY-26, and all of the candidates and their partisans are on there making declarations and accusations using the #NY26 hashtag. Green Party candidate Ian Murphy has released his birth certificate and demands to see Jane Corwin’s. (It’s not easy being born rich, he says). Jack Davis seems to still be confused by this whole “internet” thing. Corwin has tried to stay above the fray, but her partisans both locally and in Washington can’t seem to make up their mind about Kathy Hochul.  One minute, Hochul is a “Washington insider”, the next minute she’s the Hambourgeois tax-hikestress.

But what has intrigued me has been the ruthless, organized, and professional efficiency with which the Bellavia campaign was dispatched.

Back on March 25th, the Corwin campaign notably declared that it would not challenge his petitions. Corwin’s spokesman told Bob McCarthy:

“We respect and value David Bellavia’s service to our country and have not filed any objections to his petitions”

No, no one identified directly with the Corwin campaign filed any objections to his petitions, but within hours of the petitions being made available for inspection, an objection was filed which challenged 2,600 separate signatures. This objection was filed by a Republican from Corfu whose name does not appear on any Board of Elections financial disclosures. He seemingly has no connection to any of the campaigns.

Seemingly.

Corwin’s biggest allies right now, and the men who have appointed themselves to be her soldiers with sharp elbows are Chris Collins and Carl Paladino, both of whom have become giants within the Erie County Republican Party. The challenge to Bellavia’s petitions seems to be completely independent and totally unrelated to Corwin’s campaign.  But I’m uncovering details that seem to indicate that the Corwin campaign and this petition challenge enjoy only one or two degrees of separation.

I’ve long said that New York’s laws should be changed to enable candidates to run for office by collecting a nominal amount of signatures or paying a fee. The system is set up now to hamstring independent candidates with byzantine hypertechnicalities.

But in the end, Bellavia may have remained on the ballot had someone from Corfu not filed a professional challenge to his petitions. Let’s connect the dots and see if they lead to Jane Corwin.

#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

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

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

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

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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.

Where Collins & Paladino Innocently Discuss #NY26 with David Bellavia

24 Mar

Two Saturdays ago, the Tea NY faction of the local tea party movement held a candidate’s forum for the NY-26 race. The two candidates who showed up were crazy xenophobe Jack Davis and Iraq War veteran David Bellavia. Davis was set to speak at 3:00 at the Comfort Zone Coffee Shop on Elmwood, and Bellavia was set to speak at 4:00.

The head of the Tea NY group, Rus Thompson, was running the program. He knew that top Erie County Republicans wanted to talk to the Batavian Bellavia and try to find out why he was ruining Jane Corwin’s sure thing, and hopefully get him to pull out of the race. Rus, seeing an opportunity with Bellavia in Buffalo, took it upon himself to contact Carl Paladino and Chris Collins to come and have a friendly conversation with Bellavia.

When Davis got through pontificating about how immigrants are ruining America, Rus summoned Bellavia to come in to start his presentation, and says he told Bellavia at that time that Carl and Collins were waiting to speak with him. Bellavia reportedly disputes this; it was relayed to Glenn Gramigna that he felt completely blindsided and cornered. Bellavia’s camp says that, when he was done with his presentation, Rus’ wife Jul convinced him to hang around and have a cup of coffee, at which point he was led to a back room where Paladino and Collins were waiting. Rus tells me that it wasn’t exactly like that; that Bellavia knew the two were there, and there was some discussion with Bellavia’s people about who could attend the meeting.

Gramigna reports that Paladino and Collins, (whom he doesn’t name) tried to convince Bellavia to leave the NY-26 race, going so far as to allegedly offer him an Assembly seat – presumably Steve Hawley’s in A-139. Rus says that this never happened; that it was a friendly conversation, and that the only thing Collins and Paladino told Bellavia about the NY-26 race was that Corwin would spend millions. Bellavia acknowledged that fact, and explained that he was in this race because ECGOP Chair Nick Langworthy had promised him that the NY-26 race was his when Chris Lee was done in Congress. That day came sooner than anyone expected, and Bellavia feels betrayed by the Corwin pick.

Channel 2 did, in fact, make an appearance as the meeting was taking place in the back room of the coffee house. Gramigna reports, and sources tell me, that Bellavia called them from the bathroom. Nothing came of it, but I’ve heard that hilarity ensued as Paladino and Collins scrambled to evacuate the Comfort Zone coffee shop undetected by HD cameras. Rus says it was nothing like that, and that Bellavia and his handler went out first, with Rus, Collins, and Paladino following soon afterwards.

Rus Thompson tells me that during the meeting, Bellavia played for his assembled hosts a voice mail he had received and saved.  The voice, whom nobody recognized – and was not Michael Caputo – promised Bellavia $70,000 if he would leave the race, and I also hear that the message included information that could only have come from Bellavia’s own credit report, with the voice urging Bellavia to take the money and better his financial situation.

The use of the gossip sites to try and affect the Bellavia candidacy is a huge tell. Before Kathy Hochul could even announce her candidacy, Jane Corwin and the NRCC jumped all over her, calling her a liberal lobbyist tax-hiker. The fact that Bellavia is in this race with some genuine right-wing Tea Party support, and the fact that Jack Davis is positioning himself as the whackjob Tea Party candidate pulls wingnut votes away from Corwin; Corwin, whose first public proclamation upon being selected by her party bosses involved calling out President Obama for not defending the stupid, stupidly named, and likely unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. Corwin has to call the gays gross in order to protect her right flank from a war hero and a deep-pocketed nut.  What a sad indictment of the Republican Party that is.

Bellavia is a man on a mission, he’s pissed off and has something to prove. He’s not burning any bridges because they’re already smoldering in the creek below.  I may disagree with every opinion he has, but I don’t have any reason to believe that Bellavia is not a man of honor and integrity. Unlike so many others involved in politics in this petty, nasty area, he can’t be bought off. This is remarkably frustrating to hyperwealthy Republicans who are used to people trembling at the sight of their checkbooks.

Rus agreed to confirm his side of the story on the record, and he confirms many of the details contained in Gramigna’s post. Rus says he tried to set Bellavia up with Paladino and Collins for noble reasons, to foster a discussion. He says he didn’t intend to ambush Bellavia, and I take him at his word. But it would appear that Bellavia felt ambushed, enough so that he alerted the media.

There’s also the matter of Caputo. Some have expended a lot of energy accusing him of being the person who tried to solicit $50,000 bribes for Bellavia to exit the race.  If Bellavia had a phone message on his voice mail – confirmed – that offered him a $70k bribe to do just that, why the hell would he need Caputo to go out and hustle for $20k less? It makes no sense.

It makes no sense because the Caputo-bribe story is utter nonsense. Apparently, when the Corwin pick was made, a strong effort was undertaken to get Bellavia to sit this out.  It was thought that, should that happen, big money people might host a fundraiser to enable Bellavia to retire his campaign debts. This is so common as to be completely uncontroversial, and not at all a bribe.

So, good for Bellavia for sticking to his guns, for not being intimidated by powerful, wealthy men trying to influence his decision-making behind closed doors under peculiar circumstances. Note that Bellavia is standing on principle, and can’t be bought.

Corwin is scared. Collins is scared. Paladino wants people to be scared of him. How fascinating that Chris Lee’s shirtless tranny hunting let all of WNY see that political party for what it really is.

Make sure to read Chris Charvella’s companion piece, as he contacted Hawley to see whether he knew that Collins and Paladino supposedly offered his seat to Bellavia.

Bellavia Bribery? Bull.

22 Mar

For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.

A local website is reporting that former Paladino campaign manager Michael Caputo offered to convince independent conservative NY-26 candidate David Bellavia to withdraw from the race in exchange for money; it accuses Caputo of soliciting a bribe from the million-heiress’ campaign.

Caputo issued this response:

I have never solicited a bribe in my lifetime. I play no role whatsoever in the NY26 race. I do not work for David Bellavia and I made no contact with the Corwin camp at his behest. More importantly, David Bellavia would never entertain such an unconscionable idea.

David’s opponents have done some pretty rotten things to force him out of this race. They’ve lied to his face, they’ve lied to others, they’ve denigrated his valorous combat service to our nation, they’ve illegally accessed his credit report, they’ve left bribe offers on his voicemail, they’ve maligned his family, and more.

Clearly, this is just another attempt to smear David: when a candidate fuels his campaign with integrity, he becomes a popular target for those who have none.

Were Bellavia to leave the race now, having been accused of being associated with an attempted bribe, he would be under a cloud of suspicion for some time. He can’t withdraw now; his hand has been forced.

One must … be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.

By staying in the race, Bellavia clearly hurts Jane Corwin‘s chances, siphoning off more conservative voters and probably many veterans, as well.  Even detestable xenophobe Jack Davis harms Corwin’s campaign, because he’s running as a tea-party candidate to pull out the “I hate brown people” vote.  Hell, even Ian Murphy helps Hochul’s campaign because his Green Party platform and likely Beastly antics will help to moderate Hochul’s demeanor by contrast, and help position her as a centrist.

[I]t is far safer to be feared than loved

So, who benefits the most from having Bellavia stay in the race, hurting Corwin’s chances?  Who benefits the most by having Kathy Hochul win NY-26 and go off to Washington come June 2011? Who was so petrified of a Kathy Hochul candidacy that he famously (infamously?) berated the beloved county clerk within reporters’ earshot? Who has a hotline to the website that published the Bellavia bribery bullsh*t?

It all boils down to the fact that this race is eminently winnable for Hochul, and there appears to be a faction even within the Erie County Republican establishment that would very much like that to happen. It explains why the NRCC went negative on Hochul yesterday, and why Corwin went negative on Hochul today – so negative, so fast (and so clumsily)? Someone’s worried.

In 2006, 40+% of NY-26 voters held their noses and voted for Jack Davis. In 2008, 40+% of NY-26 voters voted for Alice Kryzan. If a generic Democrat can pull in 40+% of the vote in that district, a Kathy Hochul – who represents as clerk more people living in NY-26 than Jane Corwin does – can expect to do somewhat better. Hochul is well-liked, seen as someone who has made government services more streamlined, businesslike, and accessible. She is unknown in Monroe County, but that’s surmountable.  Attempts to tie Hochul to Nancy fricking Pelosi smack of such small-time, disingenuous hackery.

The root of this Bellavia bribery story has, therefore, got to be in Chris Collins’ camp, we think. He’s got the motive, the means, and the opportunity to slime Carl’s enemy, Caputo, and simultaneously lubricate Hochul’s path to Washington.

And you thought the Machiavellianism in WNY – especially from our esteemed, tax-hiking County Executive – couldn’t get any more tinpotty.

NY-26: The Word is “Fluid”

24 Feb

The Democratic county chairs covering NY-26 issued the following press release yesterday:

The people of this district deserve a representative that understands our issues — whether it’s in our farm communities or the suburbs of Buffalo and Rochester. We are looking for a candidate who will bring common-sense solutions to the table to work on the most important issue facing our district, improving our economy and bringing jobs to Western New York.

The process we have developed to identify the best possible candidate to serve the people of the 26th District is a deliberate, open and inclusive one. We want to ensure that all who are seriously interested in being the Democratic candidate have the opportunity to be heard and to share their vision for addressing the needs of our district.

Unlike our Republican counterparts who seem to have made a rush to judgment, we believe taking the time to find the best person is of utmost importance. Democrats are energized and excited and we are moving forward with the process. We assure the people of the 26th Congressional District that we will be ready with an outstanding candidate to run in the Special Election.”

In order to be eligible for further consideration, if they have not already done so, interested candidates must submit their resume and cover letter to any of the county chairs no later than COB March 3rd. Contact information for each county chair is below.

  • Erie County – Chairman Len Lenihan, len@ecdems.com
  • Genesee County – Chairwoman Lorie Longhany, lorie.longhany@gmail.com
  • Livingston County – Chairwoman Judith Hunter, judith.hunter@gmail.com
  • Monroe County – Chairman Joe Morelle, joe@monroedemocrats.com
  • Orleans County – Chairwoman Jeanne Crane, jeannecrane01@localnet.com
  • Niagara County – Chairman Dan Rivera, ntdemocrats@aol.com
  • Wyoming County – Chairman Hank Bush, Jr., hbush3@rochester.rr.com

In addition, yesterday Governor Andrew Cuomo offered up a bill that would extend the various deadlines applicable to the calling of a special election. The purpose behind the bill is to better enable mail-in and military ballots to be counted. As of today, Governor Cuomo has not yet called a special election for NY-26, and likely won’t until this bill makes its way through the legislature. The federal Department of Justice has been pushing the state to better deal with military ballots, and this measure is part of the fix.

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On the Republican side, Iraq war veteran David Bellavia filed papers with the FEC towards a petition drive and ultimate run in NY-26. The Conservative Party has been making mouth-noises that are blandly supportive of Corwin, so the only thing left is the job-promising and patronage. On the cloud-cuckooland side, each major party has told Jack Davis to go and get his shinebox, so Davis will run on some third party line and muck up the works.

As for Hochul, sources say that there’s some friction between her and the DCCC. The D-trip wants someone who is like Bill Owens was in NY-23; an exquisitely wealthy, centrist Democratic fresh face. On the other hand, Hochul isn’t thrilled with the notion of DCCC having a big say in a potential campaign. So, that somewhat explains the interview process outlined above.

One thing’s for sure – if Bellavia and Davis both make it onto the ballot, the Democratic selection will have an unprecedentedly good chance of winning this thing.