Some interesting leftovers from Tuesday’s election – you know, the “off-year” affair that was so “boring.”
• Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo must sit in his Albany perch and shake his head over those always-scrappin’ Democrats out there in Western New York. If he entertained any fleeting thought of depending on the Erie County Democratic organization to manage his western politics next year, that most likely vanished in the wake of Headquarters’ drubbing in the elections that counted.
Sure, Chairman Jeremy Zellner gained a genuine “W” with Mark Montour’s election to Supreme Court. And he noted some success in the towns. But the Dems lost the County Legislature and the two big countywide contests.
Now it only makes sense that Cuomo will continue to rely on his main point man in Buffalo – former Erie County Democratic Chairman Steve Pigeon. And nothing could more irritate the Pigeon opponents occupying Democratic Headquarters.
The governor’s political operation has in the past attempted to install its own guy as chairman. Are they aiming for the same result with Pigeon?
• Nevertheless, life goes on at Democratic Headquarters and preparations are already under way for another election a year from now. One interesting course will be the one followed by Sen. Tim Kennedy, who will run in 2014 and is expected to again garner at least one primary opponent.
In September, the senator said he would again seek the party endorsement and “it would be hard-pressed for someone to make the case against me.”
But after he poured $85,000 of his campaign funds into the Pigeon-backed WNY Progressive Caucus targeting endorsed Democrats this year, it’s a sure bet that a Democratic primary opponent will volunteer to make the case against him.
• Back to Pigeon: The attorney and political consultant is taking a page from the playbook of his mentor and pal – billionaire Tom Golisano. Pigeon’s political contributions may not yet approach Golisanoesque proportions, but he dropped more than $150,000 of his own money in the past 12 months on Cuomo and the WNY Progressive Caucus alone. That qualifies him as an official big-time donor, and leads to the conclusion that things are going well in the world of whatever it is that Pigeon does.
• Some of the most interesting reading for political aficionados appears each year in The Buffalo News tables breaking down Election Day votes by town and Council districts. The experts study them for hours.
But it takes no expert to note that vote totals have drastically changed since Byron Brown first ran for mayor back in 2005. Approximately twice as many people voted for mayor in 2005 (66,657) as in 2013 (33,661).
It is also interesting to note that Republican Sergio Rodriguez captured 30 percent of the vote on Tuesday, topping the last GOP candidate – Kevin Helfer in 2005. With far fewer voters, Rodriguez topped Helfer in percentage with 30 percent while spending about $27,000, compared to $600,000 and 27 percent for Helfer in 2005.
Whether you spend $600,000 or $27,000, GOP observers like former Erie County Chairman Jim Domagalski question the wisdom of running a Republican candidate in heavily Democratic Buffalo: “Do you pour money into a race you’re going to lose 3 or 4 to 1, or do you win the County Legislature, sheriff and comptroller?”
That’s a chairman’s point of view.
Yet 30 percent of Buffalo voters on Tuesday still appreciated the choice, as opposed to 2009 when no Republican alternative was offered.
• Speaking of Domagalski, pass out some credit to those of his era (including former County Executive Chris Collins) for recruiting candidates like Kevin Hardwick and Lynne Dixon, who now form the nucleus of the County Legislature’s new majority.
• In case you missed it, Republican County Executive Rob Astorino of Westchester overwhelmingly won re-election on Tuesday, anointing him the most talked about potential Cuomo opponent in 2014.