Tag Archives: Nick Langworthy

Mark Grisanti Campaigns in Downtown Tantrum

12 Feb

Photo by Jill Greenberg

In a few short years, State Senator Mark Grisanti has accomplished what few of his colleagues manage to do in a lifetime of “public service” – he has made a name for himself.  

Depending on whom you ask, he’s either a hero or an infamous traitor. In a way, that’s something for the senator to be proud of. After all, you don’t become an elected representative to blindly poll your constituents and see which way the wind is blowing.  On the contrary, while you should be responsive and available to constituents, you’re supposed to vote your conscience. It’s at the ballot box where your constituents get to tell you whether they agree. 

Grisanti’s change of heart on same-sex marriage is legendary. For supporters of civil rights, he is a hero for coming around on an issue of fairness and equality. For homophobes, he is a traitor because he had once promised not to support marriage. In the end, Grisanti got a boost, same sex marriage is no longer the huge controversy that it used to be, and he was on the right side of history. 

In the wake of the massacre of 20 first graders in Newtown, CT, Governor Cuomo decided to toughen New York’s laws regarding assault weapons and limiting the number of ammunition rounds that can be kept in a magazine. Some prominent recent shootings – Newtown included – saw gunmen carrying veritable arsenals around to do maximum harm in minimum time.  While Cuomo famously said you don’t need 15 bullets to kill a deer, you also don’t need 11 bullets to kill a 6 year-old

Opponents of the SAFE Act point to mental health treatment as the way to stem mass shootings. Gun control advocates likely believe that to be partly true, but expansion publicly funded mental health treatment and intervention don’t appear anywhere in any Republican manifesto of which I’m aware. So, while elected officials decide what they want to do about mental health services, it’s a good idea to make it as hard as possible for people who shouldn’t have weapons to get them. For this, Grisanti is now practically persona non grata

Before NY SAFE, New York already had among the most restrictive set of gun laws in the country. For instance, you’re not allowed to own a handgun unless you apply for – and receive – a permit to do so. New York still enforced the expired federal assault weapons ban, and NY SAFE strengthened it further.  Rifle magazines are never allowed to contain in excess of 7 rounds of ammunition. Semi-automatic rifles or shotguns with certain features (e.g., pistol grip, flash suppressor, bayonet lug, etc.) are banned, but if you owned one prior to the law’s passage, you  get to keep yours. A person’s weapons may be seized if there is probable cause to believe that the person is about to commit a crime or is mentally unstable. In New York State, the government has discretion in issuing pistol permits or conceal carry permits. In New York City, the rules are more restrictive than that. 

What part of “shall not be infringed” do you not understand? 

Well, the right of the people to bear arms is restricted, not infringed. It is up to the courts to determine whether a restriction is a 2nd Amendment infringement. Furthermore, each state’s laws differ on gun ownership and possession. Usually, conservatives cheer that sort of 10th Amendment state’s rights sort of thing, but perhaps that cheering is absent when the states choose policies with which the right does not agree. What came about? Right-wing freakout temper tantrums. 

It’s gotten so bad that it’s been rumored that Grisanti’s camp has had preliminary talks with the Erie County Democratic Committee about an endorsement. 

At last weekend’s Republican roundtable, tea party rabblerouser and former congressional candidate Mike Madigan apparently lit into Grisanti as “untrustworthy”. Grand Island Paladino shadow Rus Thompson (R-Tantrum) has threatened to primary Grisanti. Attorney and perennial candidate Kevin Stocker is already trying to reprise his 2012 loss.  At the GOP confab, Grisanti warned

…that the Republicans may lose their hold on the majority in the State Senate. Perhaps warning against a bruising GOP primary for his seat, he noted that four key Cuomo programs are targeted for early passage if the Dems gained control of the chamber: abortion of babies in the 9th month of pregnancy, taxpayer funded elections, fusion voting limitations, and the DREAM Act – free tuition for illegal aliens. Notably, the fusion changes Cuomo seeks could spell the end of the Conservative Party, the endorsement Grisanti has coveted and been denied. 

Oh, joy and rapture. An end to the perverse electoral fusion system that runs on graft, patronage, and confusion would be perhaps the best and most significant change that Governor Cuomo could ever bring about. The Conservative Party yanked its support from Grisanti over same-sex marriage, yet it has astonishingly continued to endorse other candidates who voted for it. Because “principles”. 

Given the hate and vitriol the small minority of ultra right-wing neofascists hurl at Grisanti, he’s not wrong to seek out a possible Democratic endorsement. These loons have labeled Grisanti a “RINO”, which is, to them, worse than being a Maoist, and they have set out to destroy him. They insist on conservative purity, which will go over great in a primary and lead to a catastrophic loss in the general election, because in November, people are generally in the middle. We’re not all gun-hugging omniphobes. 

Ask political choad Chuck Swanick how well he did running against Grisanti on an anti-gay platform in 2012. 

So it looks like it might fall to Canisius Professor and County Legislator Kevin Hardwick to primary Grisanti. Before he was a politician, my image of Hardwick was that he was not unlike Grisanti – an old-school, middle-of-the-road, northeastern Republican. Like a Bill Weld, conservative when it came to spending and taxes, and socially laissez-faire. But to challenge Grisanti, Hardwick is going to have to tack right, and I don’t know how that’s going to come across or how well it’ll do for him in November. 

Either way, chances are that Langworthy’s Republican committee isn’t going to be endorsing Grisanti, ever. They might endorse Hardwick if he runs. Time will tell if they get involved in a primary at all. Hardwick says he doesn’t like the NY SAFE Act, either, and that will be the centerpiece of any Republican challenge mounted against Grisanti. I think Grisanti has an opportunity to talk about the SAFE Act and why he voted the way he did. It could be as simple as pointing out just how much positive attention Governor Cuomo has given western New York since that vote. In an Albany run by Andrew Cuomo, Sheldon Silver, and Dean Skelos, you won’t be particularly effective by going against them. Just ask Mickey Kearns. (Changing the way Albany is run is a different matter, but no one in government makes a serious go of it for a variety of reasons.) Hardwick could end up in Albany, and then what? Is he going to get the SAFE Act repealed? Of course not. The whole thing is silliness. The entire landscape in that senate district is a massive fit of gun-hugging pique. 

The district that Mark Grisanti represents is a predominately Democratic one. 

So, to my mind, I wish Grisanti well. I want legislators like him in Albany and Washington – legislators who do what they think is right, even when it’s unpopular. I want legislators who take a controversial stand and then take the time and intellectual effort to back it up. We can do a lot worse than Mark Grisanti in Albany

Trolling #POTUSBuffalo and What Government Is

23 Aug

 Some showed class. Some were absent. Others descended into a weird, anachronistic madness. It was a weird day. 

Let’s recall that the only times a member of the Bush Administration deigned to visit our fair city, it was Richard “Dick” Cheney coming in 2003 to collect big money from deep pockets – $1,000 per plate, and Bush in 2004 to a carefully selected crowd to defend the Patriot Act.  Cheney cost the city $10,000 in police overtime and avoided contact with non-wealthy non-Republicans at all cost. I don’t recall what, if anything, the Democrats did or said in reaction to those visits, but suffice it to say that Cheney wasn’t here for anything except raising money for re-election, and Bush only saw the Buffalonians he needed to see. 

Some Republicans showed class. 

 

There was the time the President forgot who the Mayor of Buffalo was.

(Byron Brown’s Democratic opponent capitalized on this moment:)

Then there was everything else.

Obama has come to town twice. Once in 2010, and this Thursday. He came to town specifically to announce a new initiative to guarantee that American kids who want a college education can get a quality one that is affordable. 

In 2010, he came to talk about manufacturing. Everyone was there – Congressman Chris Lee, County Executive Chris Collins included. 

In 2013, he came to talk about education. Chris Collins was nowhere to be seen. I’m told he wasn’t invited. In just one short year, the Collins district has gone from Kathy Hochul having the President’s ear and the district having clout, to an angry Obamaphobe congressman who votes to repeal Obamacare, because his singular issue is to deny families access to quality, affordable health insurance. The 27th Congressional District has a disgrace for a representative – a person who seeks to harm, not help, families. 

When I first started writing this post late Thursday, it was going to be a profanity-laden rant against the Erie County Republican Committee, which released what is probably the dumbest statement, ever. It compared President Obama to, of all people, Jimmy Carter – a punchline from 35 years ago. 

Erie County GOP Trolls

Erie County GOP Trolls

But I decided not to. I realized they were trolling us. To rant and curse would suggest that there was some legitimacy to anything the local Republican Party has to say about anything. There isn’t, so I haven’t. Simply put, anyone who would knowingly compare the economic crises (plural) of the Carter era to 2013 America is either a party hack or someone who wasn’t alive during the Carter era;  Erie County Republican chairman Nick Langworthy is both. 

Evoking Jimmy Carter is a sign of fundamental weakness; the Republicans had to skulk back 35 years to find a Democratic President who had a bad economic time of it. Were they out of Paula Jones jokes? In 2013, We don’t gave gas lines, OPEC isn’t bothering anyone, inflation isn’t 13%, unemployment isn’t in the double-digits, and we don’t have crazy high interest rates on borrowing. All of those things were true in the closing months of Carter’s presidency. Operation Neptune Spear succeeded while  Operation Eagle Claw failed. There is really no comparison to be had. 

Why the Carter troll? Because after him came Reagan, who is godlike among Republicans. They think that Reagan fixed the economy in perpetuity by ushering in supply-side, trickle-down economics.  Both parties had until recently clung to the trickle-down theory as gospel truth, yet in the last 30 years wages have stagnated, the middle class is bearing the brunt of payoffs to the very rich, and the lot of the average American family has been made worse so that people like the Kardashians and Kochs can pay lower taxes. 

Why the Carter troll? Because it’s stupid and they’ve got nothing. Bush’s recession was the worst since World War 2 in terms of overall economic shrinkage. The worst. So, the numbers now seem catastrophic as we try to undo the damage. Facts being facts, WNY didn’t do so well under Reagan, either. Or Bush 1. Or Bush 2. Or Clinton. Why the Carter troll? They point to figures showing that the number of people participating in the labor market has shrunk to 1980 levels. The problem is that no one really knows what’s behind that. The pinkos over at the Wall Street Journal suggest that the labor participation rate was shrinking even during low unemployment of the Bush 2 years, because of the commencement of baby boomer retirement (it tracks nicely with boomer engagement in the market). The cadres at JP Morgan confirm it

So the trolls at ECRC are blaming Obama for the retirement of aging baby boomers. 

But it also reconfirms just how patently anti-individual, anti-consumer, and anti-middle class the Republicans have become.

As the Republicans in Congress vote for the 30th+ time to repeal Obamacare, and as they release obnoxiously false and misleading, trolling press statements bringing up bogeymen from 35 years ago, realize these two fundamental truths: 

1. The Republican opposition to Obamacare is a reflection of their platform, which would deny average Americans the right and ability to obtain quality, affordable health insurance. A repeal of Obamacare brings back lifetime maximums, denials of coverage for pre-existing conditions, the wonder of medical bankruptcy, an inability for people not on Medicaid or Medicare to get affordable insurance unless provided through an employer. 

2. The President was in town to announce an initiative to provide average American kids access to quality, affordable higher education. Since when did the Republicans decide that this was not a civic or social goal?  

Why has the Republican Party declared war on providing average people with things to keep them alive or to educate their kids? I don’t get it. But they’re so dead-set on this that they will beclown themselves with 30 year-old Johnny Carson jokes.  

At one point, Langworthy’s statement read as follows, 

After ushering in an era of economic malaise not seen since Jimmy Carter, President Obama comes to one of the most unemployed cities in the nation to tout more college educations for our young people,” Langworthy said. “We need jobs now – we already have thousands of college graduates unemployed in Erie County.”

“The prescription for job creation has been proven and tested by time: government needs to get out of the way of business,” Langworthy said. “Instead the Administration is creating a raft of job-killing regulations and, with ObamaCare, transforming our nation into a part time workforce.”

Just once, I’d like to see a Republican take the side of the average person instead of big business. Just once, I’d like a Republican to say, “I think the health insurance system we have is too expensive and not geared towards patient needs. I don’t like Obamacare, but I agree that we need to find affordable ways to guarantee that no American is found wanting for medical care they need”. Just once, I’d like a Republican to say, “We need to grow the middle class, and restore the social mobility that has stagnated over the past generation. We need to encourage and help people to get an affordable college education”. These sorts of statements used to be uncontroversial.

“Talking about a college education for everyone in Buffalo is like offering a starving man tap shoes,” Langworthy said. “Thanks for stopping by Mr. President. Erie County needs jobs.”

Usually, when you present a wildly stupid simile like that, you tend to explain what you mean. What does Langworthy mean here? The President said that the unemployment rate for college graduates is 1/3 what it is for people without one. Is Langworthy saying here that Buffalo kids don’t need college? Is he saying that they are just a bunch of willing labor-meat, ready to operate machinery that long ago escaped to Mexico or China?  And what happened to entrepreneurship? Sure, we need jobs, but used to be a Republican would tell someone to go and make their own job. I guess not so much. Labor-meat. 

Given the extremely high rate of school failure in the city – led by a mayor who has Conservative Party backing, you’d think that the Republicans would follow all of this bluster up with a credible Republican candidate for Mayor.

Funny you should think that.

Buffalo has a credible, hard-working Republican candidate. Education is high on his agenda. Yet Langworthy isn’t just passively ignoring, but actively shunning Sergio Rodriguez. Education is the biggest issue of our time, especially in Buffalo; not except.

Sure, we also need strong training and apprenticeship in the trades, but the unions used to do that and we all know what Republicans think of those.

Improving our public schools and guaranteeing every kid access to higher education is a goal that no credible politician would reject, but the Erie County Republican Committee did just that. The statistics show that a college education leads to better jobs and job prospects. Langworthy ridicules this and mocks the notion of social mobility. It’s shameful. 

It’s downright un-American. 

As the President came to town, Langworthy added petulance to the mix: 

 

So, look up at the picture Derek Gee from the Buffalo News tweeted – it’s at the top of this post. People were clearly excited about a sitting President coming to town. Yet, while Langworthy was whining about the local media fawning all over the most powerful man in the world being in town, his colleague from the National Republican Campaign Committee wrote that the President wouldn’t get any “Buffalove”. Which is it? 

Buffalo showed Obama love and excitement. Buffalonians like the idea of making life easier for the middle class. We like the notion that people should have access to a quality and affordable college education, just like we think people should have access to quality, affordable health insurance. We’re that old-fashioned bit of flyover country that thinks people deserve a fair shot in exchange for hard work – whether it be through brains or brawn. The problems we face as a region are decades in the making, and most of them have bipartisan or nonpartisan causes. 

I haven’t been a Republican since 2003 – this sort of nonsense is why. If you’re an Erie County Republican, thank Ray Walter for being a respectful guy with class. If you’re an Erie County Republican, tell Nick Langworthy that he embarrassed you today. If you’re a resident of NY-27, now you know that you’re effectively unrepresented in Congress. 

The Grisanti Situation

29 Jun

The last several days have been a whirlwind for NY State Senator Mark Grisanti, but that’s what happens when you make history. After casting a crucial vote in favor of marriage equality in New York State, the Senator has found himself featured on The Daily Show, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and in media outlets across the country. He’s held press conferences here in Buffalo and done numerous interviews. He’s kind of a big deal.

With that sudden notoriety also came some serious questions from local officials in the Republican and Conservative Parties who were not happy with Sen. Grisanti’s decision to vote in favor of marriage equality. There have been local stories all week about how disappointed the members of those parties are with Grisanti’s actions.

When contacted for comment, Erie County Republican Chariman Nick Langworthy said, “As I’ve said a few times, I’m disappointed with Mark’s choice to vote in favor of gay marriage. He went back on his word to support the institution of marriage being between one man and one woman.”

But what are the political consequences that Grisanti now faces after “disappointing” his party chairman and senior members of the party? Yesterday, we heard a rumor from three different sources that Langworthy had arranged a meeting of at least some of the members of the Erie County Republican Executive Committee to determine what the roadmap would be for dealing with Grisanti. The sources reported that Langworthy and other Republican leaders were considering a move to sever political ties with the Senator. When asked, Langworthy said that meeting was not happening and added, “I’m not out rattling cages about this, but I think Senator Grisanti should spend some time with his constituents.”

The rumor of a secret Republican cabal to kick Grisanti out of the party, as it were, seems unlikely. After all, the decision to force Grisanti into the arms of an eager Democratic Party is not Langworthy’s alone to make. A decision like that has tremendous statewide consequences that would affect redistricting and the overall balance of power in the state senate. Any move on Grisanti would need approval from the state party chairman and other members of the party apparatus. Langworthy may be a lot of things, but a move like that would be politically tone deaf.

With that said, Democratic party regulars are chasing Grisanti like hormonal tweens chasing Justin Bieber at the airport. Pulling Grisanti back into the Democrat party from whence he came would be a massive coup. When asked for comment, Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Len Lenihan said, “There are always informal discussions locally and in Albany over issues like this, but nothing formal or direct has happened. I have not spoken with Senator Grisanti about this.” Lenihan continued, “Senator Grisanti was a lifelong Democrat until this past election and he is now a hero in this party after voting his conscience.”

Senator Grisanti’s Chief of Staff, Doug Curella said, ” Right now we are dealing with real issues like creating jobs, lowering taxes and bringing people back to the Western New York area. We have never really thought about running on the Democratic line in 2012, it’s a year in a half away, we are interested in the policy, not the politics of government.”

The stakes are high for a first term Senator who earned praise not only for his marriage equality vote but for his entire body of work during his first year. An independent report done by the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) shows Grisanti was one of the state’s busiest and most effective lawmakers, according to a recently released study of legislation that passed this session in both the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly.

Grisanti sponsored a total of 103 bills and had 23 pass both houses ranking him 8th out of the 212 combined members who represent the state in the Senate and Assembly. These 23 bills also placed him 7th in terms of numbers of bills passed by senators. Grisanti passed the most bills of any first term senator or Assembly member. He also is the only first-year legislator among the list of 10 who passed at least 20 bills, with the other nine who made the list having served in office for at least five terms.

It seems to me that the battle for Senator Grisanti is just getting started. “The situation is ripe for discussion and Senator Grisanti essentially holds the majority for the Republicans in the State Senate.” said Lenihan.

To be continued…

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 Backlash, Davis Dodders, Bellavia Battles

23 Feb

Yesterday, tea party activist and hater of tolls Rus Thompson appeared on a radio program hosted by some mulleted, paranoid, Islamophobic, little person. There, Rus explained that he was disappointed that the Republican county chairs in NY-26 had rushed to select Jane Corwin, a solidly doctrinal Republican Assemblywoman, to run for that congressional seat.

Rus said good things about Batavian Iraq War veteran – and the Yin to Jon Powers’ Yang – David Bellavia, and Kathy from Williamsville, the Dr. Laura of uninformed jingoism.  When the noxious paranoiac radio host asked Rus whether he was familiar with Corwin’s policy positions, he replied that he wasn’t. He added that he hadn’t looked into them.

Afterwards, I asked this question on Facebook:

Rus Thompson is upset at the Republican chair’s selection of Jane Corwin because he doesn’t know where she stands on issues. Also, he hasn’t looked into them. WTF.

I tagged Rus in that, so it showed up on his wall, and he replied:

Assembly Member Jane L. Corwin refused to tell citizens where he/she stands on any of the issues addressed in the 2010 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart, national media, and prominent political leaders.

That is true – Corwin didn’t fill out the 2010 questionnaire. But…

So why not use the 2008 courage test? No one ran against Corwin in 2010, so why would she have bothered to complete a questionnaire? http://votesmart.org/npat.php?can_id=110467#18027

It’s interesting that the Democrats are split two or three different ways in WNY, and they openly bicker & fight over patronage jobs and benefits like rabid dogs all the time.  Yet when it comes time to coalesce behind a consensus candidate for high office like House or Senate, they set aside their petty little local differences and get it done.

The Republicans have traditionally been a unified lot, bickering and fighting over jobs and benefits largely behind the scenes while putting forth a unified front to the public. However, the tea party is completely satisfied to call out the party apparatus in public and split the party; on the one hand are those friendly to the apparatus who understand that winning elections is important, but so is handing out jobs and cutting deals. On the other hand is the tea party, which is, itself, split between the Palinists and the Paulists, and insists on having a seat that it hasn’t really earned at the party’s table.

You earn a seat at that table by doing more than just agitating – you have to do the grunt work that electoral politics demands, like petitioning, canvassing, stuffing envelopes, making phone calls, raising & donating money.  The tea party thinks it’s entitled to be an equal with Nick Langworthy because it gets media attention.  But the Palinist tea partiers are just conservative Republicans, nothing more.

In the meantime, tea party hero and serial emailer Carl Paladino has endorsed Jane Corwin’s candidacy:

I’m a proud member of the Tea Party movement in New York, and together we helped change the face of Congress in November. Jane Corwin will be another member in our movement to take our country back. As the 2nd most conservative member of the New York State Assembly in rankings by the New York State Conservative Party and the #1 Legislator of Unshackle Upstate, a New York reform organization, Jane knows we need to slash federal spending, balance the budget, end bailouts, oppose the Obama stimulus package and support repeal of Obamacare.

Not to be outdone, perennial candidate Leonard Roberto has also endorsed Corwin.  (I think we just got a strong hint as to where Roberto got that $50,000 he “personally” injected into his race just a week or so before election day).

It’s fun to watch the shenanigans.

Why go public and claim that Corwin was shoved down people’s throats as a nominee when you (1) aren’t part of the official selection process; (2) didn’t participate in the NY-26 race in 2008 or 2010; (3) haven’t articulated reasons why she’s unqualified or inappropriate; and (4) haven’t even investigated her positions on issues, and claim that they’re unavailable when they are, in fact, readily available?

Jack Davis is a $3 million man without a party.  He has successfully bullied and angered the Democrats and Republicans, because in Jack’s world, money talks, period. Hopefully the Democrats don’t return his undeserved calls, which leaves him with the option of hiring day laborers to gather petition signatures, most of which will be invalid.  The magic number is 3,500, and if Jack can hire a small army of people to get, say, 10,000 signatures, there’s a good chance he finds his way on the ballot. The problem with Davis is that his anti-immigrant, anti-trade xenophobia appeals not just to rightists, but also to many in labor, so it’s somewhat less predictable how his entry in the race might affect the outcome.

Politico is reporting that David Bellavia is “strongly considering” a race on either the Conservative Party line, or some other line. Bellavia was told in 2008 to step aside for Lee, as it wasn’t “his turn”, and he actively campaigned for Lee over the years, and organized veterans to do the same. Now, he believes it’s his turn, not Corwin’s, and he evidently feels betrayed that the party selected the well-funded Assemblywoman over him to run in this race.  National tea party consultants have injected themselves into the race and advocated for his run.  He released this statement (embed via Daily News):

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In the meantime, the Democrats are biding their time, not rushing into anything for a race that hasn’t even been declared yet.  As of right now, the election to replace Chris Lee in NY-26 will take place in November 2012.

Coniglio: I’m Holding Back!

10 Jun

Not to be outdone by “don’t get between me and a camera Jim” Ostrowski, Allen “Obama is a seekrit muslin Manchooriyun Kandidayt” Coniglio weighs in on the tea party split.  Why only a tiny handful of people would want anything to do with him and any group with which he’s associated is a question for the ages.

The following was posted yesterday by Jim Ostrowski on his blog, Political Class Dismissed. This is essential reading for anyone who has been asking why the tea party movement has been split, who caused it, and why can’t they all just get along? I am going to post Jim’s entire statement because it is all essential to understanding the story, it is efficiently stated, and there are no wasted words. I will tell you that there is much more to this story and much that we have been holding back for the past several months. We will release those details when we are able to do so.

I would like to further add that the Tea Party Coalition and two of its members, Jim Ostrowski and me, have been under an unrelenting assault from forces allied to the political machines in Buffalo and Erie County. Not only has Rus Thompson, who for all intents and purposes is a representative and willing player for that machine, been actively involved in spreading lies and hatred toward and about us, but several of his allies from the far left wing of the democrat machine have done his bidding as well. For some reason, they seem to have become obsessed with me and waste no opportunity to take shots in my direction. I would like to thank them for that as they are proving what I have been saying all along, that the Tea Party Coalition is the last honest element in the Buffalo tea party movement. Remember, these people are friends with Rus Thompson, who has never, as far as I know, ever been attacked in any serious way by these writer/journalist wannabes who have no problem in repeating things that are fed to them by someone who has openly stated to the current Erie County Republican chairman, Nicholas Langworthy, that he is going to take Jim and me, “out at the knees”. He has been working on doing just that for the past several months.

There is a movement underway right now, engineered by Rus Thompson in collusion with the Republican Party and their chairman, Nick Langworthy, to take over the Buffalo tea party and turn it into a political machine with Thompson at the controls. Then, we would have a phony tea party which would be little more than an extension of the Republican machine, much like the Conservative party is to the Republicans and like the Working Families party is to the Democrats. The deal making has already taken place on a number of levels and on a number of occasions. If challenged by Rus Thompson or anyone else associated with his corrupt interests on any of what I have said here, I will then be forced to REVEAL EVERY SINGLE DETAIL OF ALL THE REST OF THIS SICKENING STORY. I will affirm that everything that I have said thus far and that I will say is absolutely true and I can prove it all, AND MUCH, MUCH MORE. I should hope that these people would be smart enough to understand that I am not kidding and I have had enough of their nonsense.

Because we refused to play along with them, they have set out to destroy us and they have worked at it as though it were a full time job. This is machine politics at its ugliest and after hearing this, if anyone should be so foolish as to believe another word that comes out of Rus Thompson’s mouth, or that of his little friend, Nick Langworthy, then shame on you. I can speak only for myself but I can assure you that I will NEVER play along with any of these corrupt people or any of their corrupt tactics and I would never betray the trust of the people who have been good enough to allow me into their lives and who have participated with me in making the tea party the greatest force for reform in our nation’s history. I have never been involved in politics in any serious way before this past year and I can now understand why decent people tend to stay away from it. It is a cutthroat and ruthless, rotten game where grown people who should know better, do things for which they should be ashamed. Most of them, however, are not ashamed, until they get exposed. I think, however, that some of the people involved in these things are truly shameless.

Shorter Allen Coniglio:

Jim and I wanted to create a different type of political machine.  We didn’t want to align ourselves with the existing machine, because it wouldn’t be pure enough, Jim tells me.

I think Coniglio should just stick to repeating fringe birther conspiracy theories.  This one is my favorite:

I have written several times of this exact thing, that obama and his boys would trump up some kind of event in order to declare martial law and suspend the constittution. Some have called me paranoid. One notorious liberal has called me crazy Most people think I just need to calm down. Glenn Beck recently did an interview with Newsmax and he referred to this possibility as the “Reichstag effect”, named for the burning of the German parliament building, the Reichstag, in 1933. Here it is from the Newsmax interview:

http://www.newsmax.com/insidecover/beck_obama_reichstag_fox/2009/09/2…
. . . his real worry is that many Washington elitists really don’t like our form of government and want to see it abolished.

“I fear a Reichstag moment,” he said, referring to the 1933 burning of Germany’s parliament building in Berlin that the Nazis blamed on communists and Hitler used as an excuse to suspend constitutional liberties and consolidate power.

“God forbid, another 9/11. Something that will turn this machine on, and power will be seized and voices will be silenced.”

It is my concern that something like this will happen in the US. I do not doubt for one minute that obama and his thugs are capable of such an action and I am more than certain that should he find it impossible to to rig the elctions in 2010 or 2012 to allow him to continue his policies or, if he finds himself on the verge of being exposed as a noncitizen, having been born in Kenya, that would be his cue. This man is a terrorist, a thug, an unscrupulous, classless human being. He will do whatever he believes he can get away with. He is not bound by any ethical or moral concerns as most people would be. Like Hitler, he will do anything to impose his will on the people of this country and ultimately, the world. Prepare yourselves. Do not abandon your efforts. Be eternally vigilant, as that is the price of freedom.

Allen

Like I said, Coniglio is the most unintentionally hilarious, deliberately ignorant local Obama-hating teabagger in town.  Good luck with that “coalition”, Jim.  Oh, and here’s a an actors’ recreation of Coniglio and Ostrowski at a donut shop:

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Rus Thompson Draws Formerly-Friendly Fire

8 Jun

Ordinarily, you’d expect me to further cheer the daily deepening of the rift between the two competing local tea party factions.

On the one hand, you have conservative Republican wing represented by Carl Paladino and Rus Thompson. Tea New York is registering voters, getting petitions signed, recruiting candidates, supporting and promoting them, and working to a certain degree with the local Republican party apparatus to facilitate all of the above.

On the other, you have a strange amalgam of Jim Ostrowski’s glibertarian cult and Allen Coniglio, a person of such unintentional hilarity that quite literally no one takes him seriously. Their so-called “tea party coalition” finds its home here, at Ostrowski’s own book-plugging site, and on Coniglio’s listserv. They haven’t had much luck recruiting candidates, or keeping them once they do, they have done poor promotion and desperate support, and refuse to cooperate with those in a position to assist them.

The Thompson/Paladino wing is winning. The Ostrowski/Coniglio wing isn’t.

I like Rus Thompson even though I don’t always agree with him. He is a guy who is involved politically for the right reasons. He has been active on the tolls issue, on pushing for reforms and better government for years.

The whole thing blew up in a very dirty and politically vicious way this past week. One of Ostrowski’s clients is an online publisher, and it became quite evident over the weekend that Ostrowski, or someone who is part of his faction, fed that website a great deal of hateful things about Rus Thompson, calling him a “political whore”. It seems that Jim Ostrowski’s personal Higgins opponent, Jill Rowland, was convinced to run instead against Louise Slaughter, leaving Len Roberto to battle Higgins in his annual failed campaign.

Ostrowski’s group held a candidate’s night event a few nights ago and among the people it endorsed is Matthew Ricchiazzi for state senate. It appears that Ostrowski’s “coalition” consists of five old guys. You may recall Ricchiazzi ran for mayor of the city of Buffalo last year for a brief time, gaining little traction but attracting some attention, particularly online.

Monday morning, Ricchiazzi blasted off an email to just about every local media email address he could harvest – even the kid who covers the online-bargain beat for the Channel 2 morning infotainment hour got an email. In it, (see it here in its entirety), Ricchiazzi pleases his new political ally – Ostrowski – by blasting Erie County Republican Party chairman Nick Langworthy for, among other things, endorsing “Democrat Rus Thompson”. (Ricchiazzi’s website is here).

Say what now? Rus is a lot of stuff, but to make him out to be some kind of liberal democrat is patently nuts, assuming that the reader is a complete moron. Thompson switched his party enrollment in 2009, expecting to run a primary against Antoine Thompson this year. With Carl Paladino’s entry in the governor’s race, Thompson opted instead to help that effort. Ricchiazzi strikes:

…Langworthy is left impotent, powerless, and unable to deliver.

Such was the case last week, when he failed to garner any significant level of support outside of Erie County for his endorsed gubernatorial candidate, Carl Paladino, at the state’s GOP nominating convention. Sources tell me that Langworthy pushed hard to nominate Democrat Rus Thompson in the 60th senate district (as a favor to Carl) at a hastily convened meeting of the Republican Party Committee last Saturday morning, on May 29th. He was flatly denied, (no fault of Rus’s) and was unable to garner a majority to nominate.

Really, Nicholas? You’re going to pull an Ed-Cox and try to give the Republican line to a Democrat? Wasn’t it you telling us that Chairman Cox shouldn’t endorse a Democrat?

Rus Thompson isn’t Steve Levy. Steve Levy was brought it by Ed Cox to help Cox’s son in the NY-1 congressional race. Rus was doing what Lenny Roberto (currently running against Brian Higgins) said people ought to do – run in primaries, rather than general elections. After all, most WNY electoral districts are gerrymandered to the point where general elections are seldom relevant – it all comes down to what happens on primary day.

I contacted Nick Langworthy, and he sent along this statement in response to Ricchiazzi’s rant:

I am simply focused on electing Republicans. I had reached out to Matthew by email after meeting him at a Paladino fundraiser last month. I asked him if he would like to have formal discussions regarding his candidacy. He declined my invitation.

So, it would seem that while the local Democrats are self-destructing into three warring factions, the Republicans have their own three factions. So in actuality we have what amounts to no fewer than six distinct political parties locally, so that’s fun. But ultimately, when a self-important media slut-cum-political prince takes to the nomenklatura’s muckraking site to impugn the integrity of a Rus Thompson, I think that’s beyond shameful and despicable.

Paladino and the Republicans

1 Jun

Erie County Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy talks with Capital Tonight’s Liz Benjamin about Carl Paladino.

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Arm-twisting? At the Republican Convention? But…but the unfortunately named Mr. Cox said that wouldn’t happen!