The Wyoming County Republican Party remains in turmoil this week following a raucous Friday evening meeting that produced an overwhelming vote of no confidence in Chairman Gordon M. Brown.
The meeting, held at the Warsaw Fire Department, also resulted in a separate vote with similar totals (about 67 to 33 percent) asking Brown to resign. But the chairman refused and said he fully intends to serve out his term through September.
Brown said Monday the situation reflects residual controversy over his failure to support Republican David J. DiPietro for the Assembly seat of the retiring Daniel J. Burling through the 2012 election cycle.
“I did nothing [for DiPietro] because I do not care for Mr. DiPietro,” Brown said Monday about his support for primary candidate David Mariacher. “That’s really what it’s all about.”
DiPietro was eventually elected to the Assembly after winning a crowded September primary and the November general election. He did not return a phone call for comment on Monday.
The chairman characterized the special meeting as a “whine and complain” session, acknowledging the strong votes against him by the majority of the 41 committee members attending. But he emphasized that he was elected to serve his entire term, adding that he is unsure of his plans afterward.
“They felt I was not doing a good job based on my opposition to Mr. DiPietro,” Brown said, pointing at 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl P. Paladino – a DiPietro ally – as having fomented the action.
“He circulated emails about running me out of Wyoming County and that I should go back to being a pig farmer,” he said. “I’m sure that spurred on Mr. DiPietro.”
Paladino acknowledged his approval of the vote during a Monday conversation with The Buffalo News.
“In my opinion, this is what should be done in other counties throughout the State of New York,” he said. “Guys like Brown have to go, and DiPietro will be there for Wyoming County.”
He said Brown and other county chairmen who are “RINO” (Republican in name only), are holding back the party throughout the state. Paladino supported the former East Aurora mayor for the Assembly last year after backing DiPietro opponent James P. Domagalski – then Erie County GOP chairman during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign – for State Senate two years earlier.
Michelle McCulloch, a committeewoman from Attica, said she read several pages of complaints at the Warsaw meeting aimed at Brown’s alleged lack of leadership during the recent campaign.
“Over the last year, the committee has had to deal with several issues that were not in the best interests of the party or Wyoming County,” she said. “We wanted to discuss them openly.”
McCulloch also found herself at the center of the party squabbles last year when she filed an ethics complaint against her former employer – State Sen. Michael H. Ranzenhofer, R-Amherst. She said Ranzenhofer fired her because she supported DiPietro ally David Bellavia in the Republican congressional primary against Chris Collins – the eventual winner of the primary and general elections.
She said Monday that Albany ethics officials rejected her complaint because it had no standing against a legislative official like Ranzenhofer.
Jane Stephens, vice chairwoman of the Wyoming County party, was among those supporting Brown.
“Some of the people were a bit dissatisfied with the way the election was handled this year,” she said. “But Gordon has been a good chairman. He spent a lot of time and a lot of his own money to be county chairman.”