The War for Independence
by Geoff Kelly - posted 2:23 pm, July 19, 2010
So today Assemblyman Sam Hoyt sent out a press release: He’s received the endorsement of the Independence Party.
The state Independence Party, that is, chaired by Frank MacKay.
The local chapter of the Independence Party, chaired by Sandra Rosenswie, lined up behind Hoyt’s Democratic primary opponent, North District Common Councilman Joe Golombek. The local branch of the Conservative Party also endorsed Golombek. Political operative Steve Pigeon, that champion Hoyt hater, exercises considerable influence with the local leaders of both parties.
It used to be that Pigeon (and his chief benefactor, Independence Party founder Tom Golisano) swung a pretty heavy hammer at the state level, too. Just last spring, Frank MacKay acknowledged that he would follow the lead of Pigeon and Golisano when it came to Independence Party endorsements in upstate races. And recall that two years ago Pigeon deployed around a half million of Golisano’s dollars in an unsuccessful bid to unseat Hoyt. So what gives?
The state party must ratify the local party’s endorsements, and this is not the first time that the local chapter has run afoul of the state operation. What we’re seeing now, I think, is the influence of New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg — the billionaire has bonded with Hoyt over their mutual support for charter schools — winning out over that of Pigeon at the state level. Maybe Bloomberg is making a power play. Maybe Pigeon’s association with scandal-ridden State Senator Pedro Espada is creating some backlash. In any case, it will be interesting to see how this resolves itself.
The endorsement, while nice for Hoyt, probably won’t do much to help him beat back Golombek. The race is nail-bitingly tight, and the urge to hoist all incumbents on a pole runs especially strong this year. (Of course, an anti-incumbency message does not resonate as strongly coming from Golombek, who has been in elected office himself for 10 years.) Hoyt’s support for charter schools, though it wins him campaign donations from charter advocates and support from Bloomberg, may cost him in the voting booth, if the Buffalo Teachers Federation’s Phil Rumore is able to rouse his troops, a large contingent of which live in the district.
“Sam Hoyt has long been a champion of reform in state government,” said MacKay, in the press release issued by Hoyt’s office this afternoon. “He represents the issues and priorities of the state Independence Party and we are proud to endorse him for his reelection. New York State needs strong, independent leaders like Sam Hoyt who are driven by reform in state government.”