A plethora of pre-parade political points to ponder:
• Mayoral limbo continues.
Incumbent Byron Brown has yet to announce his certain bid for a third term. Potential Democratic primary opponent Bernie Tolbert rates a “making the rounds expert” after a year-long listening tour. And more attention is focusing on Comptroller Mark Schroeder, who quietly watches from atop his 12th-floor perch in City Hall.
As they all wait for the other to move first, strategies and counter-strategies continue to develop.
• Take the Conservative Party, for example. With only about 1,200 members in the City of Buffalo, the tiny band should rightly wield little influence this mayoral election year.
But Brown has made extraordinary efforts to remain in the minor party’s good graces, especially by ducking comment on the controversial aspects of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new gun control law. That earned him few points with the Cuomo bunch in Albany, but Conservative honchos in Buffalo are positively beaming.
• What if Tolbert jumps in, prompting Schroeder to also eye a candidacy? Some say this is the comptroller’s year; that other up-and-coming pols will be ready to roll in 2017, and his time will have passed.
That presents a special dilemma for Conservatives, who have always backed Brown – but have always backed Schroeder, too. It’s a sure bet the party hierarchy will recall that while every other Big Five mayor endorsed all parts of a Cuomo gun law they abhor – Buffalo’s mayor did not.
So where do Conservatives go? According to insiders, they’re glad for the current limbo season and will watch developments. Don’t expect anything from the Conservatives until at least May.
• Before the “Who cares?” emails roll in, remember it wasn’t that long ago – in 1977 – that Democrat Jim Griffin rode the Conservative line to the first of four terms in City Hall.
• GOP sources, meanwhile, say Sergio Rodriguez has earned few nominations for Republican of the Year by announcing his candidacy on their line. Those sources say some county Republicans have asked him to reconsider the mayor’s race for fear of enticing Buffalo’s Democratic voters to the polls in November – to the detriment of countywide Republicans.
Rodriguez, however, says he will still run.
• Speaking of countywide races, it appears a Democratic primary for sheriff is shaping up. According to those who attended a sheriff candidate interview session at Democratic Headquarters last week, announced candidate Dick Dobson promised to run with or without the party endorsement.
Dobson, a retired sheriff’s lieutenant, appeared with Transit Police Lt. Mike Garrity and Sheriff’s Lt. Bert Dunn – who is still viewed as the favorite of party leaders.
• Still speaking of countywide races, Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner says he is considering two private sector types to oppose incumbent Republican Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw this fall. He acknowledges, however, that attracting CPAs to a job paying about $79,000 annually remains a tough assignment.
• Even if Zellner fields a candidate for comptroller or any other position, Democratic candidates are also venturing into Cheektowaga for talks with Chairman Frank Max. The loser in last fall’s race for Democratic chairman against Zellner, Max now heads a virtual shadow party organization that could very well back opponents against Headquarters candidates.
If Zellner and Max back totally different slates this year, it could signal a county with two party organizations – at least for now. Max’s April 13 brunch event could provide answers.
• Quote of the Week is resurrected today (as we do on occasion because it’s just so good) from the late Tom Blake, describing the politicians shaking hands and kissing babies at the Irish Center’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Lunch, and can very well apply to today’s festivities along Delaware Avenue: “Some of them look like Haile Selassie, strutting in with their medals and all.”