A few things to note about politics and politicians in Western New York:
• The Hochuls say the best thing about their new waterfront home is that they can walk to work.
Not that former Congresswoman Kathy Hochul, now vice president of government relations for M&T Bank, and husband Bill, U.S. attorney for Western New York, don’t have reserved parking places at their downtown offices. But the couple is still looking forward to all the amenities that thousands of other downtown dwellers have discovered in recent years.
“Kathy and Bill are looking forward to a much shorter commute,” the former congresswoman said a few days ago.
So why does the Politics Column care? Well, we’re not sure. But we do note a bit of political significance in it all.
Hochul, everyone recalls, loomed as a major Democratic darling after pulling off a stunning upset over Republican Assemblywoman Jane Corwin back in the special congressional election of 2011. If the Democrats had a new star in those days, it was Kathy Hochul.
Then, in one of the most hard-fought elections in the entire country, former County Executive Chris Collins came charging back last fall to reclaim the seat for the GOP. But it was the closest of contests. In the most Republican congressional district in all of New York, Collins won by only about 2,300 votes.
Hochul almost pulled off the biggest upset in the country. And she was the only Democrat who could come so close.
Now, her relocation to the downtown waterfront removes her from the Collins district, nixing the possibility of a Hochul-Collins rematch. The 26th Congressional District now reverts to what it was supposed to be – solid Republican turf.
While Collins seems well-entrenched these days, he has no doubt breathed a sigh of relief.
Hochul will now register to vote in the City of Buffalo. And while we have barely kicked off the 2013 mayoral contest, there are some who believe she could very well run for the city’s top spot four years hence.
“She thinks she’s got one more race in her,” said one observer familiar with her thinking.
The 2017 election is a long way off. Maybe Mayor Byron Brown, if he proves successful this year, reaches for a fourth term – even though Jim Griffin is the only mayor in Buffalo history to pull off such a feat.
Or maybe Democrat Bernie Tolbert or Republican Sergio Rodriguez, both planning City Hall campaigns this year, win in November and plan a repeat performance in 2017.
Or maybe Hochul likes her M&T gig so much that the political bug no longer bites.
“I love my job,” she insisted last week.
But Hochul also remains a gifted pol who proves a natural on the campaign trail. She will always revel in politics.
And it’s a fun topic to ponder on a late spring Sunday.
• Speaking of mayoral campaigns, Tolbert hosts a fund-raiser at Tempo on Delaware Avenue Wednesday at $250 a ticket. It will prove an early sign of whether he can raise the kind of money he will need against a well-heeled incumbent.
• When former Congressman John LaFalce resigned as chairman of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency on May 20, the only official comment came from the man who appointed him – County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
“He deserves to enjoy his retirement,” was all Poloncarz said after the resignation. “I think it was a much bigger workload than either of us anticipated.”
But sources familiar with all aspects of the situation say it stemmed from fundamental differences between Poloncarz and LaFalce over the role of the IDA. The county executive has made no secret of his desire to rein in the agency, while the former congressman envisioned a much larger portfolio.
When such differences arise between a county executive and an appointee, LaFalce has been around long enough to recognize which one will exit the scene.