Tag Archives: Primary Challenge

The Root of the Tea Party Schism in WNY

12 Jun

Albert Matteo is a member of Lenny Roberto’s Primary Challenge, and is the third person to corroborate this exact sequence of events that led to the ultimate split of the various local WNY tea party groups.

Pay especial attention to the details surrounding the meeting & ensuing emails concerning Domagalski’s entry in the race for the Volker seat.

After squiring her around WNY, promoting her as the great hope against Brian Higgins for months, Jim Ostrowski has now taken to insulting the intelligence of Dr. Jill Rowland, who is running for Louise Slaughter’s seat, and who is no longer employing Mr. Ostrowski. See, it turns out that Dr. Rowland, whom Mr. Ostrowski recruited, doesn’t live in Higgins’ district. What a difference a few months make.

Mr. Matteo’s story:

What I am writing is in response to blogs by Jim Ostrowski that I’ve read. One thing I have learned is that Jim and reality don’t always meet. In other words, what goes on between Jim’s ears and what goes on in the rest of the world aren’t always the same thing. I am learning Allen Coniglio has the same problem. I didn’t want to do this. I tried to ignore it but sometimes you just can’t.

Let me make one thing clear – The tea party has not split! Did you get that – THE TEA PARTY HAS NOT SPLIT!!! The tea party is made up of many different groups. It has been going on for more than 5 years. It didn’t just start. It didn’t just end and it didn’t just split. The “Tea Party Coalition” collapsed, that and only that group.

What has happened to the “tea party movement”? Over the last six months or so, many of its elements here in the Buffalo area did begin talking to see if we could work more closely together. It was an experiment. There was a meeting called by Jim Ostrowski. I was hopeful. It was an idea I had thought about also but never acted on. Many others were skeptical. Time proved them right.

The first meeting did not go well. Many of these people had tried to work together before and the results were not always good. Sitting at this meeting it became evident why. Old resentments were not easily hidden. It didn’t help that the person who asked for the meeting began to attack other groups, specifically attacking Primary Challenge. Apparently, we weren’t doing what he thought we should be doing, therefore we “failed”. Great way to bring people together, huh? After this “Failed” meeting some did not come back. (Although Jim thought the meeting went great. Another case of Jim and reality not meeting.) We had decided that we would try again the next week. I hoped that we would be able to overcome this “disastrous” start and I felt I had a responsibility to be “involved”.

The second meeting wasn’t much better. Let me sum up the results – nothing got done. It was the same in most meetings and it wasn’t just my opinion. Without going in to more needless detail let me say that I went away from almost all the meetings asking myself, “Why did I go to this meeting?” The only good thing I got out of it most days was really good oatmeal and a good cup of coffee.

The signs of impending collapse were there from the beginning. Some personalities and egos just don’t go well together, neither did the name calling, mischaracterizations, rewriting and re-rewriting “tea party” history, with slants usually favoring the rewriter.

Everything came to a head the week of Easter. Both Dave DiPietro and Lenny Roberto had expressed interest in the 59th State Senate seat that is currently held by Dale Volker. I don’t believe either of them had “officially” announced. Now, Dave was very involved with the “Coalition”. Lenny was at the first meeting and foresaw that this was not going to go well and did not come back. There were several of us from Primary Challenge there so it wasn’t like the group wasn’t represented. This was when Carl Paladino was just starting to work on running for governor. Jim never seems to talk about his participation in the “meeting”. There Carl, Rus, Lenny, Dave, Jim O, Mike Caputo (Carl’s campaign manager), and Jim Domagalski met to discuss the upcoming campaign for the state senate seat. At that time it was to be a 4 person race. Not very good odds for someone. Lenny wisely dropped out of that race and switched to 27th Congressional race, which had no announced GOP candidates. There was to be a meeting on Saturday at noon involving Dave, Jim Domagalski, and Carl.

HERE IS THE MISSING ELEMENT: The night before that meeting Jim O hastily calls a phone conference meeting of the “Coalition” for Saturday morning to discuss whether to endorse Dave or Lenny. Now Jim knows that Lenny has dropped out and so do a few others, but he neglects to mention that in the e-mail. Some of us caught on immediately that something wasn’t right. This was an obvious attempt by Jim, a paid political consultant, to manipulate the group. In retrospect I think the whole “Tea Party Coalition” idea was and still is a tool to be used by Jim.

Needless to say, many e-mails ensued from many directions. It was very ugly. At that time I felt it was best for Primary Challenge to back out of the “Tea Party Coalition” but left the final decision to the board. Most were surprised I had stayed in that long. The Board voted to leave the “Coalition”.

I learned that Primary Challenge wasn’t the only group to leave. At this point there are maybe 5 or 6 people involved in the “Tea Party Coalition”. Why? I blame Jim. As is displayed in his writings Jim is a very angry, bitter person. He is extremely resentful of the success that Rus and Lenny have had. He especially craves the spotlight. He won’t say it. He might even argue publicly against the idea but I am convinced that he desperately craves it.

What he doesn’t understand is “POLITICS” or “SUCCESS”. Yes he has been at it for years and years but he still doesn’t understand it. Politics is a game of negotiation and compromise. If you can do this without compromising principle you will be very successful. If you can’t negotiate, you lose. If you won’t compromise, you lose. If you compromise your principles, you lose. It is a balancing act but it can be done.

I believe that Rus and Lenny have learned this. Jim has not. He has only succeeded in driving people away and has done so for many years.

In conclusion let me say that we have not won the war to regain our government and the fight is not over. There is much to be done but we are making progress. Those who were considered the “enemy” are now seeking our endorsement. The success of the movement across the country has shown that we are relevant and that we are powerful. If we keep up the fight, if we cast aside distractions, if we work with those we can and disassociate from those with whom we can’t, we will win.

In the end the tea party has not split. It has not died. The MOVEMENT is ALIVE and VERY WELL. Most of us still work together and there is a lot of overlap among the groups.

Only the “Tea Party Coalition” has collapsed. It collapsed from within. The poison that was at its root was the cause.