Inside this article: three more reasons to dislike Chris Collins!
Inside this article: three more reasons to dislike Chris Collins!

Politics and Stuff: What the New Year May Bring

by / Jan. 4, 2018 11am EST

Happy New Year, everyone: The Bills are in the playoffs—moving in the right direction. McDermott for President!

Some new challenges, some new names, and some not-so-new names. Here are some facts, heard-on-the-streets, and speculation for 2018:

  • The New York Daily News is reporting that Harry Wilson will not run for governor. The B-list of candidates (which includes former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra) is all that is left at the moment.
  • Erie County Republican chair Nick Langworthy is the only party leader quoted in the story. Nick is looking for a reset. Look for part of that reset to be a Langworthy challenge to current state chair Ed Cox.
  • The gubernatorial election will now go to autopilot unless something comes out of the Joseph Percoco corruption trial which drags Andrew Cuomo into focus. The trial is scheduled to start on January 22.
  • There will likely be Democratic primaries for governor and lieutenant governor. With Cuomo in the mix for the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, there could be some ambitious potential lieutenant governor challengers to Kathy Hochul looking to become the heir apparent.
  • Speaking of 2020, why is there interest in Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for president? Chuck Schumer practically has a second home in Western New York, but there are plenty of average voters here who couldn’t identify her in a crowd.
  • It looks the Erie County Democratic Committee will line up with County Legislator Pat Burke as their candidate to replace Mickey Kearns in the State Assembly. Where that might leave the Republicans would be anyone’s guess, since the endorse-a-Dem strategy needs a name candidate who would make it worthwhile.
  • Erie County Clerk Kearns will run for a full four-year term in November with no identified Democrat coming forth at the moment as a candidate. Maybe it will be another run by Steve Cichon, who ran a credible race in 2017. Another intriguing name I have heard is Lovejoy Councilmember Rick Fontana, who had expressed an interest in the office in the past. A larger and likely increasingly invigorated Democratic electorate will work to a Democrat’s advantage. Kearns will find out how difficult it is for a county clerk to gain public attention.
  • There will be a County Court seat on the ballot with the retirement of Judge Michael Pietruszka. Susan Barnes is currently the most likely Democratic nominee. The last three candidates elected to County Court have run unopposed.
  • The seats of incumbent State Supreme Court Justices Paula Feroleto and John Curran will be up this year. A cross endorsement could happen, but September is a long ways away.
  • The Erie County Legislature has flipped to Democratic control, but nonetheless there has been some intrigue. There was an effort by some folks to have the Republican minority caucus (actually three Reps, one Conservative, and one Independent) join with Barbara Miller-Williams, making Miller-Williams the Legislature’s chair. That would be a repeat of a similar deal several years ago which now-Senator Tim Kennedy helped facilitate. Word is, the deal fell apart.
  • Legislator Peter Savage will become chair. Current Majority Leader Tom Loughran is reportedly not interested in continuing in that role. Unless one of the two new legislators (John Bruso and April Baskin) is selected, the other leadership spot may go to the aforementioned Pat Burke.
  • Joe Lorigo will be the Legislature’s Minority Leader.
  • Control of the Legislature also means a shift in staff. Current legislative clerk Karen McCarthy has been named First Deputy County Clerk. Former Democratic clerk Bobby Graber would be a logical choice at the legislature.
  • Two names have been discussed for Legislature chief of staff: former deputy budget director Tim Callan and former Buffalo Councilmember-at-Large Charley Fisher, who ran in September’s primary for the seat Baskin eventually won.
  • A shift in control at the Legislature will lead to the replacement of Erie County Water Authority Commissioner Robert Anderson in April. Former County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan is a frequently mentioned possible replacement.
  • If you were one of the hundreds of local taxpayers standing in line to pay your 2018 county and town taxes early last week, don’t forget to thank Congressman Chris Collins the next time you see him.
  • And as the internet giants begin to slow down the speed of the internet for most of us as they increase the costs, you can extend another word of thanks to Collins for his support in killing net neutrality. Collins was among a group of nearly 100 Republican members of Congress who wrote to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai in support of reversing the commission’s previous decision to regulate broadband internet service. You may have caught Pai in the goofy YouTube video about what you can still do on the internet after net neutrality was killed. You can make up your own idea about what you will now really be able to do with the internet.
  • Vice reports a review of campaign contributions prepared by the Center for Responsive Politics analyzing campaign contributions to members of Congress by the telecom industry. The list of contributions includes a total of $151,000 to Collins in his five years in the House.
  • The next financial reports issued by the State Board of Elections for state and local officeholders and candidates are due to be filed on January 16 for receipts and expenditures occurring up through January 12. These reports will be most interesting for statewide candidates as well as state legislative candidates, who haven’t had to file since last July. I can also hardly wait to see how the O’Donnell for New York committee is doing. That’s the one that was created in 2005 for a 2006 campaign for state attorney general by Denise O’Donnell that never occurred. As of last July they still had $280,776 in the campaign account.

Ken Kruly writes about politics and other stuff at politicsandstuff.com.