Pat Burke, the Erie County legislator who is running for New York State Assembly is a special election to be held this Tuesday, April 24, quickly disavowed a negative mailer sent to voters on his behalf by NY Forward, a statewide group with ties to the state teachers union. The mailer tied the Democrat Burke’s opponent, Erik Bohen—who is running on the Republican, Conservative, and Independence party lines—to developer Carl Paladino and thus to Paladino’s “racist, sexist, homophobic” public statements, Paladino’s “emails with pornographic images and racist slurs,” and Paladino’s support for Trump. Paladino is indeed a sponsor of Bohen’s campaign to fill the seat vacated by Mickey Kearns, another Paladino ally, but Bohen didn’t say the things Paladino has said, he didn’t circulate the emails that derailed Paladino’s 2010 campaign for governor, and he’s not a Trump guy. Burke did the decent thing by quickly condemning the mailer, calling it “total garbage.” Bohen, in contrast, has said nothing about a scare mailer sent last week on his behalf by state Republicans featuring the glowering black-and-white visage of Andrew Cuomo, claiming that Burke will be a “rubber stamp” for the governor if elected. To each his own.
New York fusion voting meltdown: New York State’s Conservative Party voted last week to endorse Duchess County Executive Marc Molinaro for governor, instead of consolidating support around the putative Republican candidate, State Senator John DeFrancisco. As a result, DeFrancisco says he may withdraw from the race, because a GOP candidate can’t beat Governor Andrew Cuomo without the Conservative Party line. Meanwhile, the Working Families Party revealed the deep rifts in the labor movement by revolting against Cuomo and endorsing Cynthia Nixon for governor and New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor. As a result, Cuomo’s camp is trying to dump Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul from the ticket in favor of a new running mate, as yet unnamed, who will carry more credibility with downstate progressives attracted to Williams and Nixon than does Hochul. Thus the furious but short-lived effort this week by Cuomo’s team to insert Hochul into the race against Congressman Chris Collins, at the expense of endorsed Democrat Nate McMurray, who was having none of it. So many tangled parties and transactional alliances, so much chaos thus engendered. Perhaps this light shed on the state’s fusion voting system will linger long enough to reveal its absurdity and lead to change. Here’s hoping.
For as often as Congressman Chris Collins lands in our “Downs” ledger, he should be paying us for naming rights. This week, Collins earns his wilted laurels for his campaign’s attempt to pirate the Green Party line in his race against Democrat Nate McMurray. The Collins team enlisted several Republican operatives—including Erie County Legislature staffers Ross Kosetcky and Brian Pollner, and East Aurora GOP committeeman Dennis Ball, whose day job is patronage post at the Erie County Water Authority—to pass Green Party nominating petitions for a guy from West Seneca named Michael Zak. Zak’s Facebook posts reveal him to be a ranting right-winger at odds with nearly every tenet of the Green Party. As a fake candidate intended to steal a line and perhaps some votes from McMurray, Zak has three qualifying attributes: 1) He lives and breathes; 2) he has previously unregistered to vote in any party, which means he could be registered as a Green Party voter right away and quailfy for the ballot; and 3) he shares the name of an actual Green Party member who is widely respected and well known in progressive and environmentalist and do-gooder circles—the kind of guy that a lot of progressives would love to vote for, should he ever run for office. Which he’s not doing. At all. The local GOP has made raids on the Green Party line part of their playbook for the past three election cycles, and the Collins team is not going to leave any tools in their kit unsoiled in the effort to derail McMurray’s challenge, so these shenanigans should not necessarily be taken to indicate that Collins is worried. But we’re told that state and national Democratic Party leaders, who initially had written off the 27th Congressional District as unwinnable, are taking notice.
The New York State Department of Transportation unveiled its plan for a new train station for downtown Buffalo, with which they succeeded, as only the state DOT knows how to do, in disappointing virtually everyone who gives a damn. Proponents of restoring the former New York Central Terminal for the purpose remain bitter, naturally, that the new station will not be sited there. Architecture and design mavens are underwhelmed by the design’s blandness. Urban planners are upset that the new station will be sited exactly where the old one was, address the street in essentially the same way, and thus achieve no significant new linkage with the city’s public transportation infrastructure. Finally, good government advocates are outraged that DOT sought no public comments in their planning process. Way to go, DOT.