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Paladino for Mayor?

It has been suggested, right? Even before the curtains closed on Tuesday, Carl Paladino’s local partisans were suggesting that their man might run for mayor of Buffalo in 2013.

How would he do? There’s no predicting such a thing: The political environment three years in the future in an utter mystery. But at least we can look at the numbers Paladino racked up in the city on Tuesday and compare them to the last two candidates to challenge Mayor Byron Brown, Democrat Mickey Kearns in 2009 and Republican Kevin Helfer in 2005.

Both Helfer and Kearns, of course, were heavily financed by Paladino.

Overall, Andrew Cuomo destroyed Paladino inside city limits. That’s to be expected: Buffalo’s got about 107,000 Democrats and just 15,000 Republicans, with a smattering of third party voters. Cuomo won 37,253 votes and Paladino won 18,777.

That’s not quite as good as Helfer did in the 2005 general election for mayor—19,853. Of course, there were almost 75,000 votes cast in the 2005 general election for mayor, compared to just shy of 60,000 votes cast for governor in the city on Tuesday. Paladino did better by percentage of votes cast than Helfer. And Paladino did better that Kearns did in 2009 Democratic primary—14,866—though Kearns took a a bigger percentage of the votes cast in his election (about 42,000) than Paladino managed on Tuesday.

And that’s the best news Carl’s got. In raw votes, both Kearns and Helfer outperformed Paladino in the Delaware, Ellicott, and Fillmore districts. Kearns did better in the Lovejoy District by percentage of votes cast. (And that’s where Paladino was born and raised.) It’s comical to compare the three men’s anemic performances in Masten, but Kearns beat Paladino by percentage there, too, and Helfer scored more votes. Same thing in Niagara, North, and University.

The South District is the only place where Paladino beat Cuomo, taking 5,173 votes, or 62.7 percent. That’s better than either Helfer or Kearns in raw votes. In percentage of votes cast, however, Kearns did far better, with 77 percent.

Okay, you may say, but isn’t this a big basket of apples and oranges? Maybe so. But some of the data from these three elections obtain: In an election open to his Republican and Conservative base, Paladino did not poll as well by percentage as Kearns did last year. He didn’t poll as well by percentage as Helfer did five years ago, when turnout was comparatively heavy. And his candidacy didn’t inspire a record number of Buffalonians to hit the polls—turnout for the governor’s race in the city was down slightly compared to 2006.

In any case, the real numbers Paladino, or any challenger to Brown, must mind are the mayor’s: 46,613 in the 2005 general election, and 26,314 in last year’s Democratic primary.

There are always rumors of fissures within the Grassroots political machine, but on election day Grassroots and its juggernaut of a get-out-the-vote operation always seems to hang together. A lot can change in three years, but it’s hard to see, based on Tuesday’s results, how Paladino, or any Republican, can break Brown’s hold on the office in 2013—assuming he’s still in office and running for re-election. Maybe a Democrat running in the general election could give him a run for his money, a model that seems to have succeeded for Mark Grisanti in his challenge to State Senator Antoine Thompson.

But a Republican like Paladino? No way: Demographics matter.


  • Max

    Whew…that’s really haunting. Does it mean that – if Carl becomes Mayor – we’d have more signature buildings cleared for parking lots as well as more nondescript buildings serving as ‘bunkers’ to serve as State of New York functions?

    On the plus side, the Common Council meetings would get real interesting when Carl brings his Power-points…

  • jhorn

    max- forget the powerpoints, i want to see slugger waving his bat-i mean metaphor- around in council chambers…