Primary Numbers: 60th District State Senate
by Geoff Kelly - posted 12:27 pm, September 12, 2012
Rumor has it that both Republican primary candidate Kevin Stocker and Democratic primary candidate Chuck Swanick have polls in hand that show Swanick holding a commanding lead in the Democratic primary, with a number in the low 40s.
Here’s the surprise: Both polls apparently show Al Coppola, who held the seat briefly about 10 years ago and before that represented the Delaware District on Buffalo’s Common Council forever, running in second place, trailing Swanick by less than 10 points. Mike Amodeo, who has the blessing of Erie County Democratic Party headquarters, is at the bottom, trailing Swanick by about 20 points.
(Before going on, let’s acknowledge that candidate-funded polls are not as reliable as independent polls, which are not always reliable either. That is somewhat mitigated that two candidate-funded polls seem to show the same thing.)
That Swanick is leading is not surprising: He’s got money (thanks to Steve Pigeon’s campaign finance machinery and national groups looking to punish Republican incumbent Mark Grisanti for voting yes on marriage equality) and name recognition cultivated over a long political career.
It is surprising that Coppola, who many insist on marginalizing as a gadfly, appears to be running well ahead of Amodeo. It may be simple name recognition: Coppola has been around for a long time, and Amodeo is a relative newcomer. Coppola has also been spending a lot of money on signs and mailers in the last coupe weeks.
The winner of the Democratic primary ought to take this race. The district has about 94,000 Democrats and about 55,000 Republicans, 4,600 Conservatives, 10,000 Independents, 1,000 Working Family Party members, 500 Greens, and 34,000 unaffiliated voters. That’s a pretty heavy lift for Grisanti to make twice, and none of the Democrats he might face carries the negatives of Grisanti’s 2010 general election opponent, Antoine Thompson. (Whose future political rehabilitation seems inevitable. He can’t act the real estate broker forever.) Gratitude for his vote on marriage equality might not lead Democrats who defected to vote against Thompson back top Grisanti once again: After all, the good deed is done; new matters, like fracking, are on the table now. Most Democrats would probably prefer one of their own at that table when that issue comes to the fore—or in any case, a candidate who has committed to a position on the issue, which Grisanti has conspicuously avoided doing.
Then again, Grisanti first must make it past the primaries. Stocker is giving Grisanti a run for his great gobs of upstate money in a race that has been hard-hitting on both sides. Here, too, Republicans may prefer one of their own as opposed to a convert. And, while Grisanti has the endorsement of the state Independence party, the local Independence Party is running a primary against him. (Tellingly, none of those who passed Independence Party nominating petitions for Grisanti were members of the party. They were notaries public and commissioners of deeds, some of them from outside Western New York.) Support for one of the two local IP candidates, Marie Clark, might surprise him.
Brian Siklinski is the other IP candidate. The WFP candidate is Gregory Davis.