Endorsements: And the Rest

Please note: these are not Artvoice endorsements, nor are they to be cited as such. They have not been approved or made by the Artvoice editors, publisher, or any combination thereof. Any endorsements are mine and mine alone. They are preferences – not predictions. 

See Erie County Senate Race endorsements here. 

The primary elections are taking place this Thursday. Please vote, if you can.

State Senate: 62d District (George Maziarz (R) Incumbent)

Republican Primary: George Maziarz

Yesterday, I accidentally omitted this race, since I was working off an Erie County list. In Niagara County, longtime incumbent George Maziarz has suddenly found himself on the receiving end of a barrage of hatred and vitriol spewed his way by the likes of Carl Paladino and his compliant sidekick, Rus Thompson. For more about this – and how it’s degenerated from exposing Maziarz’s cronyism to outing him as a closeted gay – click this link and this link

I have no doubt that Maziarz is yet another Republican careerist officeholders who talks up private enterprise while being unencumbered by it; who wants to reduce the size and scope of government while ensuring that he continues to be coddled and supported by its largesse. He is no different in that respect from any of them. He even went so far as to pander to the tea party movement a few years ago, which was quite odd. 

Senator Maziarz and the tea party in happier times

I don’t know the ins and outs of Niagara County politics, except to say that what little I know makes Erie County look urbane by comparison. I’m sure Maziarz’s opponent, Johnny Destino, is a swell guy, but in this case the support of his campaign by the abusive Paladino tea party inures against him, and – leaving most observers amazed and shocked – actually makes Maziarz out to be a sympathetic figure. 

It’s reminiscent of what Pigeon and his collection of goons tried to do to Sam Hoyt a few years ago – in trying to help Barbra Kavanaugh, they unleashed a barrage of negativity on Hoyt that was so relentlessly vicious, that people felt sorry for Hoyt and Kavanaugh lost. I called it the “Kavanaugh flip” – that moment when a negative campaign injures itself, rather than its intended target

That’s what Thompson and Paladino – two guys who couldn’t get elected, and have had little success helping others do the same – have done with Maziarz. 

Assembly 147th District (New)

Republicans: David DiPietro

David DiPietro may be something of a tea party loon and a perennial candidate, and he is unfortunately associated with the likes of Paladino, but I’d actually like to see him go to Albany and have a chance at accomplishing something. He’s a lot of talk, let’s see some action. The rest of this collection are no great shakes, anyway. Dan Humiston? Really? 

Independence Party: Christina Abt

Setting aside for a moment my natural aversion to electoral fusion, given that Abt is up against IP member Humiston, I think it apt that you go to the polls and support her. She is good people and needs the IP line. 

Assembly 149th District: (Sean Ryan (D)Incumbent): 

I’m torn by this choice. On the one hand, I like what Sean Ryan has done since going to Albany, and I think his mission to re-invent IDAs and the way they encourage inter-regional poaching of businesses through weak, poorly vetted promises that are seldom kept. By the same token, I am a huge fan of Kevin Gaughan‘s – more for his promotion of regional government than for his downsizing effort – and would very much like to see him get elected to public office, so that we can see him in action. 

So, I’m not making an endorsement in this race, except to urge Democrats to go to the polls and not vote for Mascia


Three Open Letters Regarding Christina Abt

Dear City and State NY:

Thank you for listening to the outcry and inviting Ms. Abt to next Tuesday’s debate. I understand that she declined the invitation, because she determined that it’s more useful for her to go out into the community than to debate the four other candidates.

This was not, however, a demand that she be allowed to debate, but merely that she be granted the courtesy of a timely invitation – that she be recognized as one of the five current candidates vying for that Assembly seat, and that she is engaged in a primary race against Mr. Humiston.

Late yesterday, I received an email from your director of marketing, Andrew Holt. He explained that the original idea for next Tuesday’s debate was to just hold a debate for the Republicans in the 147th race, and that someone then decided to expand it to other races. You folks are from downstate, and you wanted to maximize your time in Buffalo. The NY-27 debate is to be the centerpiece.

Perhaps you can consider the barrage of emails regarding Abt as a sort of hazing into western New York politics. Christina is very well-respected by Democrats and Republicans alike. I’ve never heard a negative word about her. You wrote,

Regarding the 147th AD: Several folks had forwarded emails from Christina after the initial promotion, and encouraged us to reach out and to possibly include her in that specific debate. As the original concept was to only invite folks involved in the Republican primary, and already confirming their participation, I did think it didn’t was fair to the process to include her as she is a declared Democrat, also running on the Indy line. I spoke to Christina and explained it wasn’t a slight, just wasn’t part of the original primary debate programming, and that we would be happy to have her attend next Tuesday, and I would introduce her to our editor Morgan Pehme (who will also be moderating). She confirmed that she wasn’t being invited to debate, and I said that is correct, with the caveat that we were hoping to do a follow up closer to the general election, for which we would be happy to include her at that time.

In fact, you have it backwards – Abt is an Independence Party member running on the Democratic line. She is engaged in a primary race against Mr. Humiston. Although you intended no slight, she (and others) perceived it as such, because you made the decision to expand the debate to other races – mostly, but not exclusively, primaries.

After receiving a host of emails following your blog post, I conferred with our partners and the editor, and agreed to configure a way to include her in the discussion. When I called her to let her know, she declined to participate citing that it was a near 50 mile roundtrip drive. To which I was very confused, and only then understood that I was being taken for a bit of a ride. I left it off that we were hoping she would attend.

Here’s the thing – this wasn’t about her being given an opportunity to debate. It was about respect and consideration. The key here wasn’t the debate, but the invitation. In this case, it came too late and a bit begrudgingly. The organizers of this event didn’t have their ducks in a row, and didn’t think this out fully. That’s a shame, but your publication should take it as a teachable point.

Our politics here are so very petty and transactional. That’s why it’s so outrageous that the least petty and un-transactional candidate in any race was deliberately excluded from the original invitation. I would also note that you’ve omitted two of the most important, contentious primaries from your roster: the race for Grisanti’s senate seat has four very interesting candidates, and would be a huge draw.

Nevertheless, I thank you for you re-assessing the situation, and ultimately doing the right thing. I look forward to learning more about your publication in the future.

Dear Sam Magavern, Co-Director, Partnership for Public Good:

I received a very cordial note from you detailing that Christina contacted you and the YWCA – the two local organizers of next Tuesday’s debate regarding the lack of an invitation. You wrote that you and the Y went to bat for Christina, and this is appreciated.

I would point out, however, that when you affix your organization’s name as a co-sponsor or co-organizer of a political event, you need to think about it politically. That means you and your co-sponsors should err on the side of inclusion, and make sure that the courtesy of an invitation is given to all candidates in a race who meet the debate format. These are local races, and your organization advocates for fairness, equality, and good government. I treat this unintended slight as a mere oversight, and not as some sort of animus.

Thank you for pushing City and State towards ultimately doing what they should have done in the first place.

To Deborah Lynn Williams, Executive Director of the YWCA of WNY:

At around 10:30 yesterday morning, you sent this to Christina Abt:

Hello Christina

I was disappointed to see Alan’s rantings today. He made no effort to contact anyone but you it seems. He also seems not to have been informed that after you and i spoke that I was intervening to have you invited based on the fact that you were still in a primary on the I line. A shame that that route was taken when your case was being carried.

I hope that you will contact Alan and correct the record.


Your arrogance and condescension is as expected as it is unnecessary. But it comes with the territory. Everybody else involved in this was somehow mysteriously able to recognize a slight and work to rectify it, without being an insufferable jerk, (and I know all about being an insufferable jerk). In writing my piece yesterday, I went to great pains to not personalize my anger to any individual or group. All of the organizations trying to pull this shambles together should either do it right, or not do it at all. Being unsurprised at the aggressive tone of your note to Christina, I’ll respond in kind.

First of all, I don’t really care whether you’re disappointed to see my “rantings”, ever. If I could, I’d ban you and other nasty people (you know who you are) from reading. Regrettably, I can’t.

I didn’t need to contact anyone before writing yesterday’s piece. Christina posted a set of facts – none of which anyone has controverted in any way, at any timeand I wrote what I thought about those facts. I didn’t realize you thought I needed to run my opinion by you first, and I can assure you it’s not a practice I’ll be commencing anytime soon. I didn’t run it by anyone.

You assume that I contacted only Abt. Wrong. I never contacted her, either. On Tuesday night, Alan Oberst alerted me to Christina’s blog post about the debate snub, and because it was written with “just the facts”, I had no need to expand on that.

You write that I wasn’t aware that you were intervening on her behalf. You’re right – I wasn’t. That’s because I didn’t contact anyone before writing my reaction to Christina’s post.

Presumably, as co-sponsor of the debate – one of the two locally based co-sponsors – you had an opportunity to see the proposed debate roster before it was finalized, right? You knew the City & State guys running the show are from out of town, and may not be up to speed on who’s who and what’s what, correct?

As a local sponsor, this was your opportunity to step up and do the due diligence needed, and take appropriate action before it blew up in everyone’s face. You should have compared the City & State list and compared it with who was running. You’d likely have noticed that Abt was in a primary against the invited Humiston, and had a discussion about including her. However, that happened only after Abt protested. That’s your poor work and – at least partly – your oversight. Not my fault. When you don’t do what’s right from the get-go, expect to be criticized, and deal with it – as your cohorts were able to do.

I can understand that PPG may not be up to speed on the political machinations around town, and obviously City & State has no clue. But you – you’re the one who worked in live-shot-Schumer’s office. You’re the one who’s tight with Steve Pigeon. You’re as politically plugged in as anyone in Buffalo. You have no excuse.

You did the right thing by inviting Abt, but that “right thing” is something you could have – and should have – done earlier. Abt was disrespected and you should couple your invitation with an apology.

Instead of being contrite and apologetic about sending out an incomplete debate invitation, you’re abrasive and insulting. Typical.

Consider the record corrected.


Disrespecting Christina Abt

Christina Abt is the Democratic Candidate for the 147th Assembly District. She is also running a primary race for the Independence Party line under our system of electoral fusion. Abt is, incidentally, a member of the Independence Party. She has an opponent for the IP primary, millionaire owner of the Tanning Bed chain, Dan Humiston. 

Abt is also a real cheerleader for Buffalo & Western New York. A genuinely good person, with ideas and intentions that are also good. She deserves your support. 

A candidates’ forum and debate is scheduled to take place on August 21st at the Historical Society. The debate is being organized under the auspices of the YWCA, City & State, and the Partnership for the Public Good. Abt took to her campaign blog to outline the facts surrounding the organization of this debate, and who is – and isn’t – invited to participate.  She started out by republishing an email about the event that she received from the PPG’s Sam Magavern. 

Candidate Debate, August 21

There are some hotly contested races this fall – in both the primaries and general elections.  Join us for debate night at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, 25 Nottingham Court, starting at 5pm on Tuesday, August 21.  Here are some of the confirmed and invited participants:

 Assembly District 149

Sean Ryan, Confirmed
Kevin Gaughan, Confirmed

 Assembly District 147

David DiPietro, Confirmed
Chris Lane, Confirmed
Dan Hummiston, Confirmed
David Mariacher, Invited 

Senate District 63

Betty Jean Grant, Invited
Tim Kennedy, Invited 

Congressional District 26

Kathy Hochul, Invited
Chris Collins, Invited

Presented by City and State, PPG, and the YWCA of Western New York.  Free and open to the public.  RSVP to the YWCA at 852-6120, ext 0,or info@ywca-wny.org.

As “fact two”, Abt notes that she was never informed of, or invited to the debate. 


When I questioned the sponsors of the event (City and State Magazine, Partnership for the Public Good and the YWCA of WNY) as to why ALL of my opponents, both GOP and IP, were invited and I was not, I was told that it was planned as a primary focused event with the Hochul/Collins general election debate serving as a grand finale/audience draw.


When I further pointed out that I was in fact in a primary for the Independence line against one of the gentlemen who is also in the GOP battle in the 147th district— and that they were therefore were providing my opponent with a public debate forum that was being denied to me— I received compliements for a good point and an invitation to possibly interview with the editor of City and State and perhaps participate in a debate in the future.


When I asked the representative of City and State Magazine (the prime sponsor of the event) if I would be receiving an invitation, his response was that if they invited me it would not be fair to the gentlemen already invited— and also, they might decide not to show up.


I am a graduate of the YWCA Political Institute School for Women.

Abt doesn’t offer her opinion on the matter, and she doesn’t express any reaction or emotion to what’s happening. 

So I will. 

This is an outrage.

The YWCA is, in part, organizing this event, and its motto is “eliminating racism, empowering women”. The Partnership for the Public Good is a progressive organization. Yet these two groups and their leadership see fit to exclude a female from this debate. Not just any female – but a female who is currently engaged in a primary campaign against one of the invited men in her race. City and State should have simply offered up an apology and quickly invited Abt to the debate. It did not, and has a poor excuse for it. 

The notion that inviting her – late, as an afterthought, and after-the-fact – would dissuade one of the men from attending is also outrageous. I can’t even begin to understand or fathom the rationale behind that statement. Who cares if they don’t show up? In what way would an invitation to Abt be unfair to the four men who are invited? It strains credulity to the point of being an utter falsehood – a cover-your-embarrassed-ass moment by a collection of alleged progressives who should know – and do – better. 

Maybe this explains why the PPG’s website’s section on gender inequality is blank. 

The YWCA – it hosted a “candidate’s college” earlier this year, which was specifically designed to get women active and involved in the electoral process.  It hosts it every year, and as Abt noted, she’s a graduate. Yet she was specifically and deliberately excluded from the coming debate. Every other candidate for the office she seeks – all of them male – were invited without hesitation. When confronted, the PPG, the YWCA, and City & State offer up ridiculous excuses and deflections.

These organizations should add “Factually Unsupported Rank Sexism” to next year’s candidate’s college syllabus. And they should absolutely invite Abt to the debate, and apologize to her for their knowing, deliberate insult. 

Visit Abt’s website here