Wrapping up a few loose ends before Tuesday’s big primary election:
• Gov. Andrew Cuomo blew into our town on Thursday to unveil plans for a new state park on the outer harbor and endorse longtime ally Byron Brown for a third term as mayor of Buffalo.
Cuomo picks his spots when it comes to intra-party squabbles such as the one featuring Brown and opponent Bernie Tolbert. Sometimes he takes sides; most times he doesn’t.
But he is all in for Brown – significant in a primary. That’s because Cuomo remains the big kahuna of Democratic politics in New York. He remains popular in the area and his backing matters.
• The state’s chief Dem, however, shied away from entering the mayoral frays in New York City and Syracuse.
“This is a different situation for me,” he said while endorsing Brown on Thursday. “My relationship with Buffalo is different with this mayor. We go back a long way. I think this is an extraordinary situation.”
While Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is widening his lead in the Big Town’s mayoral race, that contest lacks the overwhelming advantage posted by Brown in the Buffalo polls. The New York City affair also features a minority, a lesbian and whatever category Anthony Wiener occupies – making it a race Cuomo might just want to avoid.
The governor also said he has no plans to endorse in a nationally scrutinized race for New York City comptroller, featuring Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer versus a familiar name – former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
• Hmm. No gubernatorial endorsement either for Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, Cuomo’s co-chairwoman of the State Democratic Committee. Though she faces a three-way primary and might appreciate the gubernatorial blessing as much as Brown in Buffalo, the Miner-Cuomo relationship has frayed ever since she criticized Cuomo for his “pension smoothing” proposal in a New York Times op-ed piece, calling it a “budget gimmick.”
• The other big primary on Tuesday’s ballot pits endorsed Democrat Bert Dunn against Dick Dobson to determine who will face incumbent Republican Sheriff Tim Howard in November. Dobson is benefiting from a hefty contribution of $10,000 from Jim Eagan, who is assisting the campaign and is secretary of Cuomo’s State Democratic Committee. Eagan now commits his own resources to a candidate bucking the choice of Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner, who simply does not exist in the Cuomo world of Democratic politics.
• An interesting subplot to watch on Tuesday night will be Republican Sergio Rodriguez’s attempt to qualify for the Conservative line that party leaders gave to Brown earlier this year. Rodriguez collected enough Conservative signatures on designating petitions to qualify for the write-in effort.
Fun Factoid No. 1: Republican Kevin Helfer easily thwarted the endorsement of Conservative leaders in 2005 when he won a rare write-in contest.
Fun Factoid No. 2: New voting machines introduced around the state in recent years make it much easier for voters to write in a name.
Brown has developed a solid relationship with the Conservative Party from his earliest days in politics, sometimes going to extraordinary lengths to defend its principles. But he has been defeated before by party members taking the time to write in an opponent’s name.
• Speaking of Conservatives, many in the party thought the serious rift between Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo and Republican State Sen. George Maziarz had healed earlier this year. But seven primaries for delegates to the party’s judicial nominating convention appear on Tuesday’s Conservative ballot, and sources say they reflect a rift that is very much rejuvenated.
• The best place to catch election returns on Primary Night will be at buffalonews.com, the website of The Buffalo News. This humble scribe and veteran reporter Brian Meyer will anchor the presentation beginning at 8 p.m., with reports in the field from people who know their politics – the reporters of The News.