Tag Archives: SD-61

With Apologies to Al Jaffee

8 Jul

In recent months, I’ve taken to quietly deleting comments that I find to be ad hominem, off-topic, and belligerent. If you can’t be bothered to argue an opinion or position, then it’s gone. Repeat or exceptionally egregious offenders are sometimes blacklisted from the site altogether. In any event, it’s wholly within my – ahem – executive discretion what stays and what goes. 

Recent posts about Hobby Lobby (here and here) and the “12th Man” trademark (here) have generated some lively and unusually on-topic discussions, and I’ve only gone back and deleted one or two comments. 

But sometimes, a comment is so thought-provoking – or stupid – that it merits a post of its own. I used to do this quite frequently, but as blogging as a medium has been replaced with newer, terser platforms, it’s been rare lately.

But today, we’ll play “snappy answers to stupid questions”, with apologies to Mad Magazine’s Al Jaffee

Tony, aka “wnyresident” is the showrunner of the longstanding cult comedy hit, “SpeakupWNY”. It’s a ragtag collection of Obama haters and other low-information voters who parrot a distinctly right wing weltanschauung. Think Breitbart without the spelling and grammar, or Ann Coulter without the wit. 

Now, it’s not a secret that I’m a partisan Democrat, and a proud one at that. I’m a registered Democrat and town committeeman because I believe that the platform and values of the Democratic Party match my own, as compared with the other major political party – the Republican Party.  I finally made the switch from the GOP to the Democrats in order to help Wesley Clark run for President in 2003-2004, but I had felt that the party had abandoned voters like me in 2000. That year, I volunteered and phone banked for John McCain as he battled George W. Bush for the Republican nomination.

McCain energized me on two occasions – the first was at a Republican candidates’ debate somewhere in the midwest in late 1999. The candidates were asked to name their most influential political philosopher. George W. Bush replied first with an astonishingly unresponsive, “Jesus Christ, because he changed my heart,” whatever that means. Jesus might be a lot of things, but I don’t think he was a political philosopher. (Not that I would necessarily quibble with a candidate who was arguing that, say, Jesus was the most influential figure in his life in general – that would be a valid response. But political philosopher?)

Then one by one, every other candidate parroted – oh yeah, Jesus for me, too. Except for one. 

John McCain said, “Teddy Roosevelt” and explained how this earlier “maverick” had been a Republican who broke up the trusts and believed in conservation. It was a valid response to tendered question, and one that was well-reasoned and insightful. I was impressed, mostly because here was a Republican presidential candidate who was unafraid to not do the easy thing and just say, “Jesus”. 

It showed that McCain was willing to stick his neck out, but more importantly that he had taken the time and brainpower to actually listen to the question – a sign of intelligence and respect. 

The second time? I traveled up to Peterborough, New Hampshire and caught the tail end of a town hall speech he gave.  He was saying all the right things – all the things that a young, sane, Northeastern Republican wanted to hear. 

As we know, John McCain went on to verbally assail the right-wing theocrats Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell shortly before dropping out of the race.  It was a last gasp to attract the sane, secular, Bill Weld Republicans to his team. It failed, and McCain later went on to run a shambolic campaign in 2008 with an unvetted embarrassment of a running mate, whose moronic pronouncements poison our political discourse to this day. In the last 14 years, the GOP has become only more reactionary, theocratic, and unreasonable. 

So, as the Republicans continued to lurch right – especially after the country elected, and re-elected, Barack Obama – its values and platform has gone farther and farther away from my own personal and political values and beliefs. 

I default to Democrat, just like Tony from Speakup, WBEN listeners, and many of you default to Republican. There are exceptions, and I have backed Republicans whom I believe to be exceptional in some way, or somehow better than the Democratic alternative. 

In the case of my own New York State Senate District 61, I am represented by Mike Ranzenhofer.  Mike’s a nice guy, but I think he’s been wholly ineffective in his two decades in public service. So much so that I ran against him unsuccessfully in 2007. He’s now just another Republican footsoldier in the feckless state Senate, and it would be good for SD-61 and New York for his tenure in public office to end. You can’t name anything Ranzenhofer has ever stood for in 20 years, except maybe for his push to make Chobani yogurt the state snack

One big statewide issue is the implementation of the Common Core education standards, and the extent to which kids are overtested in New York schools. I don’t feel particularly strongly about the Common Core because I think that tougher standards are needed to get kids learning at a 21st century level.  I agree, however, that the tests have been poorly implemented and administered, and that teacher autonomy should be respected.  We can strike a good balance here if we retreat from our bunkers and listen to each other, as McCain did at that 1999 debate. 

Elaine Altman is running against Ranz, and she’s a teacher. The Common Core is one of her biggest platform planks because she is uniquely qualified to address it and come up with ways to make it better. Admittedly, the race hasn’t begun in earnest, and we still have about three months to find out more about Altman and her positions. Nevertheless, as a Democrat, I default to Altman over her Republican opponent. As someone who thinks that Ranz has been an ineffective seat-moistener as a legislator, I choose Altman. As a Democratic committeeman in SD-61, I choose Altman over the career politician who’s done little to earn his fat state pension. 

So, regard

That’s a fascinating insight, isn’t it? Sure, Altman would probably be a great teacher – is a great teacher – but she’s now taking her experience as a citizen and a teacher and looking to take that to an insular, corrupt Albany that has no clue how the world works outside of its own decrepit bubble.

For as much bleating as the right makes about “career politicians”, put a professional teacher up against a career politician, and they beat a partisan retreat. By Tony’s own logic, professional gun fetishist David DiPietro would “really make a better dry cleaner” than Assemblyman. 

But this one popped up just the other day – a solid two weeks after the original post went up. 

There are no “open borders”, and anyone who suggests that is being willfully ignorant. There aren’t any candidates who want “open borders”, either – at least, not from the mainstream parties. The United States has, in effect, an army of agents along the southern border and anyone who’s actually tried to cross it knows that the process makes crossing into Canada from WNY seem as easy as a drive into Pennsylvania. 

But even more critically, immigration, the border, customs, and international affairs are wholly within the province of the federal government. The states have little, if any, power or control over policymaking or enforcement of federal immigration statutes and regulations. 

To ask what a candidate for the New York State Senate thinks about “illegal immigration” is as pointless as asking Ms. Altman her position on Burmese ethnic strife or Taiwanese independence. It would be like asking a member of the Amherst Town Board their considered opinion on fishing rights in the Georges Bank

Now, as to my “view” on “illegal immigration”, I believe that the federal government should overhaul the entire immigration system to simplify the process for people wanting to live here, and to enable businesses here in the US that depend on migrant labor to hire the people they need under a modernized guest worker scheme.  

But the current headlines are due in large part to right wing propaganda and misinformation. 

http://mediamatters.org/embed/199990

I don’t know what Ms. Altman’s position is on “illegal immigration”, nor is it in any way relevant to the duties and responsibilities of a New York State Senator. 

Elaine Altman for State Senate

23 Jun

Elaine Altman is a teacher with 24 years of experience. She’s running for State Senate against Mike Ranzenhofer, a career politician with a weak record. Unfunded Albany mandates and the outright theft of public school funding to help balance Albany’s spendthrift ways, she’s marketing herself with the social media hashtag #sendateachertoAlbany. 

She is advocating for greater investment in public services, fair taxes and fair funding for public education, mandates that support teaching and learning, rather than tests, tests, and more tests. 

The Amherst Democratic Committee is hosting a $25 fundraiser for Altman today from 5:30 – 7:30 at Loughran’s at 4543 Main Street. Anyone who wants to go to Albany to fight for stronger public education is worth a listen. 

Coppola Challenges Ranzenhofer to Debates

23 Sep

In SD-61, Democratic Challenger Marc Coppola challenges incumbent Republican State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer to a series of debates – anytime, anywhere.

Continue reading

Marc Coppola for State Senate SD-61 #WNYVotes

22 Sep

By way of full disclosure, I ran against Mike Ranzenhofer for the county legislature in 2007.  I think he’s just as ineffective and feckless now as he was then.

Ranzenhofer has been in elected office for over 20 years, and has helped preside over the precipitous decline in WNY’s fortunes during that time.  While he was in the minority during most of his tenure in the county legislature and state senate, someone who believes in good government can still make a positive difference for his constituents beyond just saying, “no” and proposing pie-in-the-sky tax cuts without actually doing the work necessary to get it done.  During his short time in the majority, he advocated for, and passed, the Giambra budgets that led to fiscal meltdown in 2004.

Marc Coppola, former Buffalo City Councilman and pre-Antoine SD-60 senator has moved into Tonawanda and is running to replace Ranzenhofer in SD-61.  He made a splash when he announced by renouncing our corrupt system of electoral fusion, refusing to accept or seek the WFP or IP or CP lines.  He pledges to work to abolish fusion. By contrast, Ranzenhofer sought and received the endorsements of the IP and CP, and no doubt some IP and CP low-level, semi-intelligent apparatchik will get some sort of state job or contract in exchange for that endorsement.  You scratch my back politics is de rigeur in New York if you play the fusion game.

Coppola is the first person with a high profile to so vocally criticize and renounce fusion – a system that helps and is helped by the party establishment.

Yet Ranzenhofer goes to the Senate, helps the Republicans cut deals with corrupt friend-of-Pigeon, Pedro Espada, and criticizes the budget process in Albany.   He has zero independence whatsoever and goes along with whatever the minority does.  Coppola rightfully criticized Ranzenhofer’s disingenuous complaints about the budget process thusly,

There are 62 members in the New York State Senate and it only takes 32 to pass a bill. Even with nine members absent, the remaining 53 are more than enough to get something accomplished. The fact that nothing is getting done is due to senators like Mike Ranzenhofer who would rather accomplish nothing so that they can play partisan blame games.”

Ranzenhofer has also been missing in action when it comes to the battle to pass the UB 20/20 legislation. The university is the district’s largest employer and in desperate need of help.

“I challenge the incumbent senator to show some independence and work for the people who elected him, not his party leader. I challenge him to do something for his district and WNY. New York State is in its most difficult financial crisis since the Great Depression. This is no time for partisan politics. It is a time for all members to act like adults and work together for the good of all New Yorkers.”

Coppola isn’t just blowing smoke.  During his abbreviated (4-month session) tenure in the state Senate, Coppola submitted many  bills, four of which passed and were signed into law by the Governor, all while being in the minority and the most freshman member of the Senate at the time.  That’s about the same number that former state senator Byron Brown passed during his entire 5 years there.

The fiscally conservative Republican incumbent, isn’t.  Just yesterday, Coppola pointed out that Ranzenhofer is all too happy to spend public money when it directly benefits his re-election campaign.

[Ranzenhofer] is an outright hypocrite, claiming to be a fiscal conservative, while spending like a liberal.

“Ranzenhofer continues to call for budget cuts and less spending, but what does he do? He spends, and spends, and then spends more taxpayer money,” Coppola said.

Ranzenhofer sent out taxpayer-funded mailings through his government offices. This most recent mailer simply invites people to come and meet his staff. Another mailer informs people to be safe on Halloween.

“Are these messages really important enough to spend thousands of taxpayers’ dollars on?” asked Coppola.

The practice is widely criticized as wasteful.

Coppola believes Ranzenhofer is misleading the public when he sounds the alarm about state spending and reducing taxes, yet he continues to spend more than any other WNY Senator in his conference on useless mailers.

Ranzenhofer wants it both ways contends Coppola, “He’s telling his constituents that he’s trying to reduce state spending, but nobody will listen to him. He is ineffective because he has no credibility and doesn’t practice what he preaches.”

Coppola also criticized Ranzenhofer for using the system to further his re-election campaign with mailers close to the election at taxpayer expense. Ranzenhofer should have used campaign funds, said Coppola.

“He has over a quarter of a million dollars in his campaign war chest, why not lead by example and use that, rather than taxpayer money when the state is virtually bankrupt,” he added.

Ranzenhofer really is just a suburban, Republican variation on the Antoine Thompson theme.  He gets a free pass on everything he does (or, more often than not, doesn’t do) because he’s a Republican with a gaping enrollment advantage in his district.  But can you name a singular Ranzenhofer legislative success?  Can you name one initiative that he’s brought forth to make your life better?  Hell, can you name a time he actually accomplished something – whether it be lowering taxes or controlling spending?

A cynic would say that Ranzenhofer’s political tenure are mere efforts to get great benefits and a sweet pension – something his small Akron law firm could never offer and remain solvent.

By contrast, Coppola wants to return to Albany and actually bring about some political change that would matter.  Abolishing electoral fusion would matter. Changing the way in which the state budget is passed would matter.  Instituting rules changes to render the legislative process in New York more democratic and fair would matter.  The highlights of his platform include,

  • A Constitutional Budget Deadline, ending late state budgets forever.
  • A Mandate Relief Task Force, that will review and recommend changes to state laws that increase property taxes
  • A Regional Economic Development plan that will grow jobs by consolidating agencies, streamlining the process, and adding consistency
  • Adding full investigatory powers and abilities to both the State Board of Elections and the Legislative Ethics Commission in order to hold elected officials, candidates for office, and their staffs accountable for violations
  • An end to Fusion Voting, which allows candidates to run on multiple party lines. This has become a breeding ground for corruption and has outlived its usefulness in New York State

When you talk to Marc Coppola, you sense his passion for good government and public service.  He knows the importance of that work, and understands the process and its nuances. He’s a guy who would go to Albany and actually do something – not just cut deals with Pedro Espada, then sit back and do nothing.  Coppola is hosting a fundraiser at Caputi’s on Sheridan in Tonawanda tonight, and you can contribute to his campaign here via ActBlue.

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Marc Coppola: Abolish Electoral Fusion

21 Jul

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Coppola is running for the 61st Senate District, now represented by Republican Mike Ranzenhofer. Coppola has refused to seek or accept any minor party lines, and called on his opponent to do the same.

Marc Coppola for State Senate.

Marc Coppola Running in SD-61; Calls for End to Fusion Voting

23 Jun

The political system is remarkably broken and corrupt. As a result, the policies that emanate from Albany are generally stupid, short-sighted, and designed to ensure re-election and the pleasing of various lobbyists and other special interest groups.

It’s easy to lapse into the habit of criticizing what amount to the symptoms of our broken politics, but oftentimes it’s important to go for the cure, instead. Two antibiotics would help to kill the infections that sicken Albany. Firstly, the legislative reform proposals that NYU’s Brennan Center has been pushing for almost half a decade should have long ago been implemented. They won’t be, however, because the current three-men-in-a-room system is advantageous to the legislators, who seldom have to do much or act effectively or responsibly.

Secondly, electoral fusion must be abolished because it is corrupt and corrupting.

Electoral fusion is the system whereby meaningless, pointless, and redundant special-interest groups and PACs get to call themselves political parties. But instead of actually running candidates for office, they simply cut deals to endorse major-party candidates. The minor parties get something in return, of course. Usually jobs or the promise of jobs. If the parties call themselves something catchy, they may garner 50,000 votes in any given gubernatorial election, thus ensuring that they remain on the ballot statewide for the following four years, cutting deals and endorsing major party candidates.

You think of yourself as a conservative, and refuse to vote for a Democrat like Tim Kennedy? Kennedy got the Conservative Party line! So vote for him there, pretend your conscience is clear, and help somebody’s brother’s cousin get a job at some state authority.

You think of yourself as an independent voter and enroll in the “Independence Party”? Welcome to the world of Steve Pigeon and Frank MacKay, as well as Tom Golisano’s money. At least Sandy Rosenswie got a job out of last year’s endorsements. Whew!

It’s particularly noteworthy and appreciated, therefore, that former Buffalo City Councilman and former State Senator from SD-60, Marc Coppola, has come out swinging in his current, new campaign against State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer in SD-61. Instead of criticizing his opponent’s lack of leadership or ideas, he’s swinging against the system itself.

Coppola has pledged not to seek or accept the endorsement of any minor party lines, and has also promised to introduce legislation to abolish electoral fusion in New York State. Ours is one of only eight states in the Union that still allow minor parties to endorse members of other parties and to count the aggregate votes towards the total. This ensures that petty power brokers continue to wield influence that is disproportionately large in relation to the actual number of party members or voters.

Coppola’s effort is radical – and that’s unfortunate. Every candidate should stand on principle and transparency, but few of them do. Indeed, many of them create their own little party lines for vanity or strategy. Carl Paladino is doing it right now for the tea party, and Chris Collins did it with the “Taxpayers First” line.

You can’t clean up Albany without abolishing the anachronistic fusion system, which exists solely to encourage transactional politics and discourages good government. Here’s the text of Coppola’s press release on the issue:

Town of Tonawanda resident and candidate for NYS Senate Marc Coppola is calling for an end to political corruption in Albany. Several minor party leaders are now under investigation for alleged illegal activities.

Coppola, who is the endorsed Democrat for State Senate running against Mike Ranzenhofer for the 61st district, believes fusion voting is part of the problem. It’s an election system that allows for candidates to run on multiple party lines. “Minor parties and their leaders have a disproportionate amount of influence in New York State politics and our government,” said Coppola. “It has proven to be a pay to play system and a breeding ground for corruption. New York is one of only several states in the country that allows the tail to wag the dog and the voters and residents of this state deserve better.”

Coppola has not requested and will not accept any party nomination other than his own and challenges his opponent, incumbent Mike Ranzenhofer to do the same. “As long as candidates participate in this system that has become disingenuous, sometimes corrupt, and an insult to voters, it will continue. I for one choose not to.”

If elected, Coppola will sponsor legislation ending fusion voting in New York State.

Now, here’s the question: will Mike Ranzenhofer do the same thing? If not, why not? Will anyone ask him?

Is Today Day One, Too?

5 Nov

Barack Obama is the President-elect. This is not only obviously historic, but Obama’s election, paired with the Democratic gains in the House and Senate serve as a repudiation of Bushism and what the Republican Party has become. Americans are a pretty middle-of-the-road bunch, and Obama ran not only an incredibly disciplined and innovative race, but a centrist race. He paired a strong platform with inspiration. The Republican Party, now due for some soul-searching and change of its own, will have to decide whether it moves back to the center in order to regain those independent voters who flocked pretty solidly to Obama, or whether it will embrace the Palin wing of the party, becoming more divisive, incurious, and Christianist. I think success lies in the former, and disaster looms in the latter.

NY-26: Chris Lee
I wish Lee well and hope he proves me wrong, but I have a feeling that Lee’s representation of the 26th District – which I fully expect to be a temp job – will make us pine for the days of Tom Reynolds’ steady leadership and limitless constituent accessibility. Lee’s platform was about as light on details and facts as any that was out there, and to this day I still think that Powers was the only primary candidate who could have given Lee a big scare last night. It was not for nothing that Domagalski held a press conference during the Democratic primary to smear Jon Powers – the Republicans were petrified of him. He was a former Republican Iraq War vet. You couldn’t smear him with anything more than War Kids – which paled in comparison to what Lee did when he was employed by Ingram Micro. Kryzan, I fear, was more of an almost stereotypical liberal who easy pickins for a well-funded, charismatic Republican businessman. The 26th is not just a Republican district, but even among the Democrats, it’s a pretty conservative district. Kryzan had a much steeper hill to climb once she won that primary than Powers would have. Powers appealed to that conservatism more than Kryzan did, and he had a better army of supporters on the ground throughout the district. Unfortunately, Powers ran a poor primary campaign, and made some very bad choices and tactical errors. There is one additional reason why the Democrats lost NY-26 this year, and that is the execrable Jack Davis, whose name should never stain my lips again.

SD-58: Bill Stachowski
The New York State Senate has flipped to the Democrats, so Stachowski will now be the Chairman of the Finance Committee. Let’s hope he starts making some noise in Albany that brings about positive change for New York in general, and WNY in particular. He won this one – but it was close.

SD-59: Dale Volker
Ugh. Dale Volker didn’t run a campaign, he waged a war of personal destruction so vicious and so nasty that he truly doesn’t deserve another penny of public money. Kathy Konst, who has an actual and genuine record of independence and reform, didn’t run an aggressive enough campaign against Volker, and she was woefully underfunded. Volker now is in a similar position to Reynolds in 2006 – clout faded, reputation damaged, I hope the Democrats go after him again next time around, and start building the money and organization they need to do that immediately. Volker’s viciousness will have a chilling effect on people getting involved in politics for quite some time, I’m afraid.

SD-61: Mike Ranzenhofer
Mike Ranzenhofer has a negligible record in his 20 years in the County Legislature, and now we’ve given him a promotion and a better pension? This is bizarro world meritocracy. Ultimately, I think Mesi ran as good a race as he possibly could have. It was aggressive, hitting Ranzenhofer on all the right issues. I think Mesi was unpolished in debates and public speaking, as one might expect from a first-timer running against a 20-year veteran legislator and lawyer. I think Mesi definitely has a future in politics, and he will improve over time.

Responsible New York
Golisano and Pigeon spent how many millions of dollars, and sent how many pieces of lit, and funded how many radio and TV ads during the primaries? Yet during the general election, RNY was comparatively absent and silent. It acted as a well-funded, more moderate Primary Challenge, but to a degree abdicated its mission during the all-important general election. I don’t get what they were thinking in October.

Robo-Calls
I hope and pray that the robo-calls that went out Sunday and Monday throughout WNY are investigated. None of them had a “paid for by” statement at the end of them, and they were offensive to the nth degree. I got anti-Mesi robo-calls on Sunday, and received an anti-Ranzenhofer robo-call on Monday. Whoever arranged for either of them should be exposed.

Negative Campaigns: The shitstain awards go to:

1. The DCCC: You know, if you’re going to run ads in the district, consult with some people in the district before you produce them. You ran shitty-ass ads for Higgins 4 years ago against Naples, and you ran shitty-ass ads for Kryzan this year. They were relentless, repetitive, unpersuasive, and seemed to me to be written by some cool Washington kids who never set foot in WNY and didn’t really know what our concerns are.

2. Dale Volker: Nothing says “fuck you, voters” like what Volker did to DiPietro in September and Kathy Konst in October. What it underscored is that Volker has an absolutely empty record to run on in his almost 4 decades in Albany, and he feels a sense of entitlement to that seat.

3. Chris Lee campaign: Just a Republican version of the horrific DCCC ads, only done by Lee, for Lee, ostensibly by someone locally. Yes, he won, but the ads were just atrocious.

4. Anybody running anonymous hit pieces: Dishonorable mention to anyone and everyone who does robo-calls, lit drops, or any other sort of campaigning without disclosing who’s paying for it.

RoboCall About Mesi

2 Nov

I just received an anti-Mesi RoboCall from 201-257-4001. So far, the only thing I can find is that the number has been used to hawk DirectTV in the past, and that the number is based out of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. There was no message at the end of the call to indicate who had paid for or authorized it.

Calls made to Mesi campaign and Ranzenhofer campaign offices were not answered.

New Siena Polls Out in Senate Races

2 Nov

They’re here, HT Albany Project:

58th SD – Erie County – William Stachowski (D, incumbent) vs. Dennis Delano (R)

Stachowski now has a 47-43 percent lead over Delano, after trailing 49-36 percent in the previous Siena poll in this district where Democrats have a better than two-to-one enrollment edge. Stachowski has increased his lead among Democrats to 62-30 percent (up from 51-34 percent). Delano maintains a 63-25 percent lead among Republicans (virtually unchanged from 64-23 percent) and has seen his lead among independent voters fall to 54-36 percent, down from 67-19 percent.

Whereas Delano led in all three sections of the district previously, Stachowski now leads 47-37 percent in Buffalo/Lackawanna, 48-45 percent in Cheektowaga, and 47-44 percent in the southern suburbs. Stachowski has a 12-point lead with men, while Delano has a two-point lead with women. Delano has a significant lead with Protestants. Stachowski leads with Catholics, and has a big lead among younger voters.

Stachowski has a 50-31 percent favorable rating. It had been 39-14 percent. Delano’s favorable rating, 53-33 percent, is down from 63-15 percent. Delano continues to have a positive favorable rating with voters of every party, while Stachowski has increased his favorability among Democrats but lost ground with independent voters and saw his favorability among Republicans drop from 35-12 percent to 29-50 percent.

More than half of voters would like to see the Senate controlled by Democrats, and Obama has opened 55-37 percent lead over McCain, up from 45-41 percent previously.

“Senator Stachowski has turned this race around. In four weeks he has erased a 13-point deficit and turned it into a tight four-point lead. Where Delano previously had a much better favorable rating with voters, the two are now viewed by voters in virtually the same light. We will have to wait until Election Day to see if Stachowski continues his momentum to win re-election, or if Delano can turn this race back around again and defeat a 27-year incumbent in this overwhelmingly Democratic district,” Greenberg said.

In the Mesi/Ranzenhofer contest:

61st SD – Erie and Genesee Counties – Michael Ranzenhofer (R) vs. Joseph Mesi (D)

Ranzenhofer has a 47-42 percent lead over Mesi, who had a slimmer 40-38 percent lead in the previous Siena poll, in this district where Republicans have a very small enrollment edge over Democrats. Ranzenhofer leads among Republicans 69-25 percent, up from 59-21 percent. Mesi leads among Democrats 62-29 percent, closer than the previous 63-19 percent. Mesi leads among independent voters 42-37 percent, although Ranzenhofer closed the gap from 43-28 percent. Mesi leads in Tonawanda by seven points (down from 10). Ranzenhofer leads in the Clarence/Newstead/Genesee County portions of the district by 15 points (up from two points), and in Amherst by three points (up a tick from two points).

Ranzenhofer has a 47-26 percent favorable rating, compared to 35-12 percent previously. Mesi’s favorable rating is 46-37 percent, compared to 45-18 percent in the previous Siena poll.

While the race has shifted seven points from Mesi to Ranzenhofer, a reverse trend occurred on the question of who voters support to control the Senate. Previously, voters supported Republican control by a 44-38 percent margin, while now a slim plurality, 43-41 percent, support Democratic control. The presidential race also flipped, with McCain’s 45-40 percent lead now becoming a 51-42 percent lead for Obama.

“This district is close in enrollment between Republicans and Democrats. The voters are close in their view on which party should control the Senate. The voters have switched their support from McCain to Obama over the last few weeks. And a small Mesi lead has turned into a slightly wider Ranzenhofer lead. Which party’s voters turn out in larger numbers on Tuesday may well determine the outcome of this race. Either way, it figures to be a late night as the votes get counted in this race,” Greenberg said.

Mesi needs your help. Ranzenhofer has a 20-year record of FAIL, and wants to bring his brand of FAIL to the Senate.

Buffalopundit Endorses

30 Oct

Although I realize that this is about as worthless and useless as just about anything, I still do it every year. Why? Because I feel like it! Some of the following are people who will be on my ballot, and others aren’t. No one has paid me a red cent for an ad or endorsement, ever – these are based on my own judgment and opinion. I am not including the unopposed and almost-unopposed races. So, coming up Tuesday the 4th, I recommend voting for the following candidates:

President: Barack Obama

My coming around to Obama didn’t come quickly or reflexively. I was a big fan of Bill Richardson’s, but he ran a crap campaign. I saw that it was between Clinton and Obama in December 2007, and began leaning Obama. In January, Obama amazingly won Iowa. That was all she wrote.

The moment came when I started listening to Obama’s speeches on race, on family, on America as that shining city on the hill – a place that aspires to greatness, and which people from around the world seek to emulate. Barack Obama is the closest thing to Ronald Reagan the Democrats have ever had. In a time when Americans are fearful and uncertain about their future, Obama talks about hope, change, and a brighter future.

It’s what he’s been doing for the past 22 months. It won him the nomination. It will win him the election. It will be win for the USA.

In a time when Americans are sick and tired of the politics of hatred, division, and polarization, Obama extends a hand and says, let’s work together in a spirit of compromise and cooperation to bring about a 21st century America – a better, leaner and more efficient government – to bring about change to our economy, to our foreign policy, to our domestic affairs.

The economy has been battered over the last few months, and throughout the crisis, Obama was – well, presidential. No crazy tactics or erratic grandstanding – Obama listened, learned, consulted, and deliberated. He did the same with respect to Iraq. There have been many times over the past 11 months that I’ve listened to or read something from Obama that has simply taken me aback – that a candidate doesn’t talk down to me like some kind of idiot. That a candidate has a reasoned, intelligent, well-executed set of ideas and plans is something we’ve frankly been without for the past 8 years. By way of example, on Tuesday while having lunch on Allen Street, I read this article in Time Magazine.

General David Petraeus deployed overwhelming force when he briefed Barack Obama and two other Senators in Baghdad last July. He knew Obama favored a 16-month timetable for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq, and he wanted to make the strongest possible case against it. And so, after he had presented an array of maps and charts and PowerPoint slides describing the current situation on the ground in great detail, Petraeus closed with a vigorous plea for “maximum flexibility” going forward.

Obama had a choice at that moment. He could thank Petraeus for the briefing and promise to take his views “under advisement.” Or he could tell Petraeus what he really thought, a potentially contentious course of action — especially with a general not used to being confronted. Obama chose to speak his mind. “You know, if I were in your shoes, I would be making the exact same argument,” he began. “Your job is to succeed in Iraq on as favorable terms as we can get. But my job as a potential Commander in Chief is to view your counsel and interests through the prism of our overall national security.” Obama talked about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the financial costs of the occupation of Iraq, the stress it was putting on the military.

A “spirited” conversation ensued, one person who was in the room told me. “It wasn’t a perfunctory recitation of talking points. They were arguing their respective positions, in a respectful way.” The other two Senators — Chuck Hagel and Jack Reed — told Petraeus they agreed with Obama. According to both Obama and Petraeus, the meeting — which lasted twice as long as the usual congressional briefing — ended agreeably. Petraeus said he understood that Obama’s perspective was, necessarily, going to be more strategic. Obama said that the timetable obviously would have to be flexible. But the Senator from Illinois had laid down his marker: if elected President, he would be in charge. Unlike George W. Bush, who had given Petraeus complete authority over the war — an unprecedented abdication of presidential responsibility (and unlike John McCain, whose hero worship of Petraeus bordered on the unseemly) — Obama would insist on a rigorous chain of command.

Again – Obama listened, learned, consulted, and deliberated. And in this instance, he challenged. We can’t have a President who just rolls over for whatever anyone’s telling him. We’ve had 8 years of a President who abandons pragmatism and deliberation in favor of ideology and inflexibility. We can’t have a President who doesn’t demand frank answers to tough questions from his subordinates, and we can’t have a President who doesn’t ensure adherence to constitutional constructs with respect to who’s in charge of what.

In 2004, I heard an unknown guy with a funny name give a speech at the Democratic National Convention. I will never forget hearing this passage:

The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an “awesome God” in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

At the time – the Iraq war was a year and a half old and going sour – it was a blockbuster speech and a concept so completely foreign to many ears turned numb from Roveian division. I thought then that this was Obama’s entry into the 2008 election. I was right. I am so ready for this guy to become President, and to have someone in Washington working hard to ensure a brighter future and a more perfect union. Website here.

NY-26: Alice Kryzan

There is no question that the 26th district has been ill-served for too long by former clout-wielding Republican Tom Reynolds. Reynolds is the kind of guy who lives in the past – old divisions, old issues, old ways of thinking. There is hardly an initiative anyone can point to as the “Reynolds record of excellence”, which really is what any legislator should aspire to, given the opportunity to go to Washington and do right by his constituents and the country. (Not to mention get paid a lot of public money and benefits-for-life).

There are two rookies vying for this seat this year, Democrat Alice Kryzan and Republican Chris Lee. There is not one thing that Lee has done or said that has been even remotely impressive, except perhaps for his fundraising prowess. His ideas are the same recycled, old Republican pablum that we’ve endured for 8 years under Bush, and longer still being represented by Reynolds. Lee seems like a nice enough guy, and I credit anyone willing to stand up and take a shot at a run, but in this year, in this climate, with the problems we’re facing, it’s patently time for something new.

Alice Kryzan is a brilliant and well-respected veteran environmental litigator who, by trade and training, can (and must) see both sides of an issue. She offers a platform not dissimilar to that of Barack Obama, with his focus on trickle-up tax breaks for the middle class and poor, more accessible health care, an as-soon-as-possible end to the war in Iraq in a safe and controlled manner, and the promotion of “what’s next” for Western New York’s (and the country’s) economy. Western New York was a pioneer in sustainable energy production, and we need to reclaim that mantle with whatever non-fossil-fuel options are out there that are available. Alice will bring renewed energy to these issues, and more responsiveness and care to constituent issues. Website here.

NY-27: Brian Higgins

You know how I mentioned above that Reynolds doesn’t really have much of a record fighting for positive change in WNY? Brian Higgins has accomplished more in 4 years than Reynolds has in 10. Western New York is better off having him in Washington fighting for a fair shake from NYPA, holding the Thruway Authority’s feet to the fire over tolls by highlighting its federal funding, being in the forefront – really, the go-to guy – of waterfront development in the City of Buffalo. Brian Higgins is no knee-jerk liberal, and he’s drawn the ire of the far left for many of his votes with respect to security and police powers, but that shows me that he’s a principled and pragmatic politician who is willing to be independent of Democratic orthodoxy. I don’t like robots – I need someone who thinks and gets things done. Higgins’ opponent, like Lee, offers nothing really new to the table. Both he and Lee repeat how they’ve met a payroll and run successful businesses. Lee inherited his, but Humiston built his. That is admirable, regardless of how you feel about tanning beds. But the job of a congressman isn’t to build a business, make a profit, or make a payroll. It’s to make and shape public policy. Higgins has proven that he is good at it, and that what he does benefits WNY. Website here.

NY-29: Eric Massa

Does what’s happened over the last 8 years really get you pumped? No? Randy Kuhl was an enthusiastic supporter of George W. Bush. He accused Democrats of wanting to see the country do badly. He is a detestable, bullying figure who hasn’t earned re-election. By contrast, Eric Massa is a smart and energetic veteran. He’s a cancer survivor and has intimate, first-hand knowledge of foreign policy and military issues from his tenure as Retired General Wesley Clark’s chief aide while Clark was Supreme Allied Commander of NATO’s European forces. Massa is on board with the renewed concentration on the hardships of the middle class, which will be a refreshing change from the Bush Administration’s obsession for giving the superrich a hand. Website here.

SD-61: Joe Mesi

Did you really expect the guy who ran against Mike Ranzenhofer for a county leg seat to endorse Mike Ranzenhofer for a State Senate seat?

I am well-versed in Ranzenhofer’s legislative record, and to say it’s unimpressive is an understatement. Has he ever voted for a tax increase? No. But he’s voted for a great many budgets containing spending hikes, and what makes that so egregious is that it is patently fiscally unconservative to do that. Ranzenhofer was all too happy to plow Giambra’s policies of borrow & spend through the legislature as minority and majority leader. He complains about roads not being repaired – including many in his own district – yet refuses to vote for budgets that would fund them (as if it would all be done for free).

The Buffalo News noted that Mesi is not as well-versed on the issues as Ranzenhofer. Well, neither would you be if you were a rookie running against a 20-year veteran. I find Mesi to be smart, accessible, and above all a good listener. A guy who is as regular as they come, but has a major stake in this community and wants to ensure that his family and everyone’s gets a fair shake going forward. He is in favor of maintenance of the STAR program, and is pushing for measured, intelligent cuts to the state budget that don’t arbitrarily slash items that people not only depend on, but that are critical to our future. Like schools and public safety. He is dedicated to the expansion of green jobs and industry in New York, and for a ban on unfunded Albany mandates. He is in favor of a tax cap with a circuit breaker, and isn’t just looking at what the state’s problems are now, but is looking into the future to try and work towards longer-term goals to growth and prosperity. I also appreciate the fact that he’s not playing the upstate Republican game of demonizing downstate New York. It’s not productive.

The involvement of Steve Pigeon in Mesi’s campaign is troubling, but not enough so that I would for some reason say, “gee, I’ll vote for Ranz”. Website here.

SD-59: Kathy Konst

When Dale Volker went to Albany as an Assemblyman, Richard Nixon was being inaugurated for his second term. Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon. New York’s World Trade Center had its ribbon-cutting. The Watergate scandal hadn’t yet hit. Nelson Rockefeller was Governor. Stanley Makowski had just taken over the mayor’s office from Frank Sedita, Sr.

And in that 36 years, Volker has done – what, exactly? The state has seen tragic decline in population and economic growth. Albany is as dysfunctional as it’s ever been. In 36 years, Volker should be able to point to a vast, proven record of service and excellence. Instead, he and his goon squad insult and threaten anyone who might unseat this unprincipled thug with a $1 million state payroll all his own. First, he and his people threatened and insulted Republican challenger David DiPietro, and now he’s doing just about everything in his power to not only defeat Kathy Konst, but to destroy her.

And in a year when people talk of mavericks, Kathy Konst really is one. She’s a Democrat, but she is neither beholden to Democratic Headquarters, nor is there very much love lost between the two. Although Konst and her husband are not beloved figures in local Democratic circles, we’re not voting for the Konsts’ friends or enemies – we’re voting for Konst. She has a proven record of transparency and hard work towards reform in the county legislature – both substantive and procedural. If ever there was someone we should send to Albany to give her a chance to shake things up, it’s Konst. Website here.

SD-58: Bill Stachowski

Dennis Delano may be a hero cop, but his political views and positions are unknown, since he won’t debate or appear anywhere to discuss the issues on voters’ minds. Seriously, Stachowski wins almost by default, and as ranking minority member of the finance committee, he is well-positioned to do a lot of good for WNY and the state-at-large. And if that doesn’t do it for you, Republican Jim Kelly endorses him, too. Website here.

Supreme Court: John Michalek, Tracey Bannister

Michalek is running for his second term. Bannister is the only candidate running who has earned the Erie County Bar Association’s highest ranking – Outstanding. As confidential law clerk to Justice Gorski in Supreme Court and in the Appellate Division, she has the experience and skills needed to be an excellent Justice.

Clarence:

David Donohue for Town Justice

David is running on the WFP line and is an excellent attorney and dedicated deputy town attorney. He is a lifelong resident of the town and very active in the community.

Tim Pazda for Town Board

Tim Pazda is a community juggernaut in his own right. He has volunteered for just about every local committee and charity imaginable, including the bicentennial celebrations this year, and many years with the Clarence Center VFD. He is a member of the planning board and extraordinarily knowledgable about development issues in the town. One of his initiatives was to institute design guidelines for certain areas of town to ensure that development follows the character of the surrounding area. That’s why the Dunkin Donuts at Goodrich & Main won’t be a beige eyesore, and it’s an idea that every community in WNY could learn from. Website here.

No matter what you do, please go out and vote. You may not think that your vote counts when you think, e.g., of the Presidential race – but it sure as hell matters to the downticket candidates.