Need a dose of politics news? We’ve got plenty:
• Republican State Sen. Mark Grisanti of Buffalo will benefit from a $250 per person fundraiser on Thursday, inviting as many supporters who can possibly cram into the ritzy Buffalo Chop House. It should translate into a successful event for a senator wearing an eternal target on his back, and they say the food is pretty good, too.
But this event’s headliners – Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos and Independent Democratic Caucus leader Jeff Klein – make it especially intriguing. It is significant that Democrat Klein will appear for the first time at a fund-raising event for a Republican senator, underscoring that Grisanti looms as a key member of the fragile Republican-Independent Democrat coalition now ruling the Senate.
Such power-sharing agreements often turn into temporary affairs. It seems that sooner or later, the Dems or Repubs somehow get their act together, regain a clear majority and exit such messy arrangements. But Klein’s political commitment to the current coalition seems to indicate that he and Skelos foresee a future for their partnership.
• Speaking of that target tattooed on Grisanti, Republican Kevin Stocker is once again taking aim. A Kenmore attorney and perennial candidate, Stocker is already knocking on district doors in preparation for a rematch against Grisanti in the 2014 GOP primary.
Stocker is following with letters lambasting Grisanti for voting for same-sex marriage and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s strict gun control measure.
“I share your values,” Stocker says in his letter. “In deciding who is best to represent our Republican values, character, integrity and trust matter most.”
• Still on Republicans, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will be gathering supporters in Buffalo on July 11 as part of an upstate swing. The county executive, preparing for a tough re-election bid this November, has forayed to upstate in the past and is often mentioned as a future gubernatorial candidate.
• Erie County Democrats, meanwhile, appear to be foundering in efforts to retake the county comptroller’s office from upstart Republican Stefan Mychajliw this year. Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner does not sound positive when asked whether CPA Lynn Szalkowski – endorsed earlier by Erie Democrats – will continue an effort he says is now complicated by health problems. “We’ll make that decision when the time comes,” he said, acknowledging a committee on vacancies could end up filling the spot.
Republican Mychajliw won a convincing special election in the 2012 presidential year, when Erie County Democrats are usually favored because of the strong Democratic turnout. The 2013 effort, however, is now facing obvious – and serious – obstacles.
• In yet another sign of the uncertainty (to use a kind word) surrounding Erie Dems, primaries for County Legislature are breaking out everywhere.
It is particularly interesting to note that candidates with ties to the Grassroots political club – considered the birthplace of Mayor Byron Brown’s political career – are challenging Headquarters candidates in the Democratic primary despite pledges of City Hall cooperation following Zellner’s endorsement of Brown for re-election. They include Joyce Nixon against Betty Jean Grant, and former Legislature Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams against Tim Hogues.
Zellner says he sees nobody from city government behind the challenges, as promised by the mayor. However, he does note the Grassroots connection and its traditional alliance with Brown.
“Some folks still try to create chaos,” he said.
Headquarters candidate Winnie Fisher is challenged by Wes Moore in the district being vacated by Democrat Terry McCracken of Lancaster. And as Tom Mazur retires from his Cheektowaga seat, Lynn Dearmeyer has declared her candidacy and Rick Zydel is representing the Frank Max faction of the party, while South Buffalo’s Pat Burke hopes the mayoral primary will turn out enough votes in the city portion of the district to carry the day. Burke, by the way, is now backed by Buffalo Comptroller Mark Schroeder. Chaos anyone?