Greetings, citizens of Goodenoughistan, where good enough is good enough!
Tuesday September 9th is primary day throughout New York State. Here are the races people are watching in western New York, and my comments and picks for each. As always, these choices are mine alone and do not constitute an endorsement by Artvoice or any of its staff. They are not predictions, but preferences.
Governor and Lieutenant Governor: Democratic Party
Zephyr Teachout and Kathy Hochul
I wrote about it with some detail at this link. Andrew Cuomo seems more interested in an historically wide margin of victory than in dealing with the corruption that rots the core of New York State politics. Practically every problem with state, regional, or local policy and politics that you can imagine stem at least indirectly from some form of petty corruption. Until and unless someone in Albany has the guts to do what’s right, this will continue to harm and haunt every New Yorker, from Montauk to Niagara. When given a chance to undertake a profile in courage vis-a-vis corrupt Albany politics, Andrew Cuomo’s response was an epic profile in cowardice. He didn’t just punt – he forfeited.
Despite all the good he’s done for the state in general and WNY in particular, given a choice in this race at this time between Cuomo and Teachout, I have to go with the political neophyte with the funny name and upstate ignorance. She recognizes what the problem is, and pledges to do something about it. Cuomo told us he knew what the problem was, and he told us he was going to do something about it, but in the end he chose an on-time budget deal with Skelos and Silver over the people.
As for Lieutenant Governor, @superwuster doesn’t know anything about upstate or WNY, nor does he care to educate himself. Those reasons alone would be enough to pick Kathy Hochul to take the #2 slot.
State Senate: 60th District: Republican Party
Mark Grisanti is controversial because he takes risks and votes his conscience. Grisanti is detested on the right for his votes in favor of same-sex marriage, and the NY SAFE Act. He is being attacked from the right by the likes of the tea party, and from the left by NYSUT’s PAC, which is backing likely Democratic challenger Marc Panepinto. NYSUT figures that it can throw some shade at Grisanti and help Stocker win the nomination, and that this will make the November race easier for Panepinto. I’m not a big fan of disingenuousness like that, but hey – it’s politics. I respect Grisanti because he sticks his neck out to do what he thinks is right – not just for his constituents, but for the state in general.
State Senate: 60th District: Democratic Party
Panepinto over Al Coppola should be a no-brainer, even with the former’s past election law issues. Al Coppola most recently gained notoriety for his brave opposition to any Peace Bridge expansion, etc., but prior to that he helped get Antoine Thompson elected to the State Senate by pulling votes away from Marc Coppola. So, even Panepinto’s reported alliance with Steve Pigeon is a minor issue because no one’s sabotaging any Democrats today.
State Senate: 62nd District: Republican Party
Mostly because Gia Arnold showed herself to be woefully unready for prime time with her cheating non-scandal, abrupt withdrawal, and silly re-entry. Ortt is a serious candidate with a serious job. Arnold is an inexperienced and unserious candidate who has, in her very short political life, displayed breathtaking immaturity, and she’s running a one-issue campaign on guns. The winner of this race will face Democrat Johnny Destino, who, like Ortt, is a serious adult person.
State Senate: 63rd District: Democratic Party
Betty Jean Grant
Given his behavior over the last few years, incumbent Tim Kennedy has a lot of shit behavior to answer for. In 2010, he helped to spearhead a petty Republican coup of what should have been a Democratic majority during the last couple of years of Chris Collins’ tenure as County Executive. Kennedy conspired to hand control over to the Republicans, and the legislature effectively rubber-stamped anything Collins wanted during that time. More recently, Kennedy’s campaign funds provided over $85,000 to the “AwfulPAC” (a.k.a. “Progressive Caucus of WNY”) to defeat endorsed Democrats in primaries and hand races over to Republicans in order to embarrass Erie County Democratic Committee chairman Jeremy Zellner and hand control of the party – and patronage jobs – back over to people friendly with Steve Pigeon.
If people want to get rid of Jeremy Zellner, then do what’s necessary to accomplish that goal. But if you sabotage the party and Democratic candidates, and help Republicans, you’re doing it wrong. Tim Kennedy has been doing it wrong, and Betty Jean has been doing it right. In fact, Betty Jean was the stalwart during the legislative coup – calling Kennedy and his henchmen out publicly and relentlessly. She is a warrior for what’s right, and for her constituents. She deserves this.
New York State Assembly: 141: Democratic Party
Seriously, you’d vote for Antoine Thompson? What is it with the political herpes, coming back every few years to make WNYers feel uncomfortable and itchy? Remember how two years ago, Chuck Swanick went gunning for Mark Grisanti by trying to capture the homophobe vote? Now deadbeat extraordinaire Antoine Thompson returns from a cushy city exile to try and weasel his way back into elected office. Do not forget that Thompson was an Albany pol for a few years, and rather widely regarded to be just awful. Don’t believe me? Here’s something I wrote in 2012, when the city hired Thompson:
What can’t be forgotten in this instance is that Antoine Thompson’s tenure in the state senate was pockmarked with scandal. There was the bizarre junket to Jamaica, where Thompson claimed to be on a trade mission, paid for with campaign funds. During the short-lived and wildly corrupt Democratic leadership of the state senate, Thompson’s behavior became brazen and strange. He got his staff to lie for him, had been accused of accepting money in exchange for influence on Racino management, and developed a reputation for being thought of as a statewide laughingstock. He stiffed groups that relied on his member item handouts. In his own life, Thompson stiffed his creditors to the tune of $5,700. Thompson gave $1000 to the legal defense fund for convicted fraudster and woman-slasher Hiram Monseratte.
Thompson arranged for a $400,000 subsidy to Howard Milstein’s Niagara Falls Redevelopment, an outfit run by a billionaire chairman of the Thruway Authority that has redeveloped absolutely nothing. When Thompson suffered a minor pulled-muscle injury in a car crash and discovered that he wasn’t hurt enough to meet the tort threshold and file a personal injury suit, he tried to change the law.
Then there was this:
They claimed to have nobody on staff called John Taylor. They said the Albany staffer is Shawn Curry, a recent hire as a legislative assistant.
So who is John Taylor? That’s what we wanted to know. So we called him up.
The Post: “Hi, is this John Taylor?”
The Post: ” But isn’t your name really Shawn Curry? And if so why are you giving out a fake name from the Senator’s office?”
“Could you hold please . . .[in the same voice] This is Shawn Curry.”
The Post: “Why are you using a fake name from the Senator’s office, Shawn?”
“I am very busy, I have business to attend to, I can’t answer your question.”
Antoine Thompson’s political aspirations should be little more than a punch line, regardless of his opponent’s merits.
New York State Assembly: 143: Democratic Party
Brandon worked closely with Kathy Hochul at the County Clerk’s office, and she’s got a good reputation for being a hard worker. By contrast, note the surname of Brandon’s opponent, and scroll up to read what I wrote about Tim Kennedy and AwfulPAC. You’ll note a similarity, and you’d be right – they’re related, and they have no business being anywhere near any sort of elected office of any sort.
I’ll be on with Shredd and Ragan at 7am Tuesday on 103.3 WEDG to talk about how awful all of this is. Whatever you do, please go out and vote!