Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact

Winners & Losers: On to November

Darkness Looms

Courtesy Flickr user july_01_2010

To my mind, last night’s primary election was a repudiation of some ugly things. 

1. Homophobia:

SD-62: Even Maziarz, who voted against same sex marriage in 2011, was a victim of an online whisper campaign that was as vicious as it was clumsy. The people associated with it are so inept at good messaging and classic electoral persuasion that they just figured they’d call the guy a queer and see if they could get away with it. But in the end, they couldn’t even muster up the balls to do that. No balls, no win for their selected candidate, Johnny Destino, who lost without Maziarz even breaking a sweat. Maziarz will face Democrat Amy Hope Witryol, who won a primary for the Working Families Party line last night against a Maziarz placeholder. 

SD-60: The Republicans of the district didn’t fall for the poor opposition from perennial candidate Kevin Stocker. Stocker’s alliance with local embarrassment Matt Ricchiazzi hurt him in the end – the only free media Stocker ever got during this race involved him having to disavow some simply awful homophobic trash that Ricchiazzi produced and emailed around the country.  Ricchiazzi and Stocker were too clever by half, and the whole effort blew up in their faces. Also, no one was buying the tall tales about Grisanti’s supposed bad acts during that Niagara Falls bar fight – no one every produced any proof. Finally, the Stocker campaign’s central theme was that Grisanti lied – he promised to do the wrong thing, but did the right thing instead. That’s not a persuasive line. 

On the Democratic side, Pigeon concocted a three-way race to make sure that Chuck Swanick’s path to electoral victory was as smooth as possible. Al Coppola did what Al Coppola does – he lets himself be run to distract the Italian vote in the district and help Pigeon’s guy’s path easier. Coppola got 11%, but more importantly Swanick – who famously received big donations from the horrible, homophobic, anti-equality “National Organization for Marriage” – lost handily to medical malpractice attorney, Democrat Mike Amodeo. Pigeon and homophobia were handily defeated last night. 

I’ll note as an aside that I know of several prominent gay men who are aligned with Pigeon and work in City Hall actually circulated petitions and voted for homophobe Chuck Swanick. This is astonishing to me – it’s not unlike a middle-class person voting against his own interests by backing Mitt Romney. Is your own identity and are your own interests so easily shunted aside to do what your bosses tell you to do? That’s sort of disgusting to me. 

2. Steve Pigeon

SD-60: Pigeon: it’s what’s for dinner. As noted above, local political scheissmeister Pigeon concocted a race to try and get Swanick to the State Senate, and it failed. Pigeon was riding high when he was Pedro Espada’s patronage hire, navigating the Senate coup where breakaway Democrats, including Espada and under the direction of Floridian billionaire Tom Golisano, permitted the Republicans to take the majority, de facto.  It was not dissimilar from what he concocted in the County Legislature back in 2010 where some breakaway Democrats aligned themselves with Chris Collins, and the place became a chaotic joke of a hellhole.

Disgraced through his connection with the coup and its plotters – especially convicted felon Pedro Espada – Pigeon is trying desperately to get back to some sort of position of influence in the State Senate. I think the state can do without that sort of thing, don’t you? Why would we want a guy to mess with the will of the people and to single-handedly play dirty tricks for his own self-aggrandizement again? 

3. Carl Paladino, Rus Thompson

As I noted above, they both embarrassed themselves going after Maziarz the way they did, but they did manage to get David DiPietro the nod – barely – to run against Christina Abt in Assembly 147. Abt won her primary on the Independence Party line.  

Frankly, DiPietro’s win is a repudiation of Jim Ostrowski’s campaign management skills. Every time DiPietro has run for something as a tea party candidate, Ostrowski has been behind it, and DiPietro lost in a sea of tea party nonsense. This race, he had the help of someone who actually knows how to win elections and handle messaging and GOTV – fellow East Auroran Michael Caputo. 

Other races: 

SD-63: Kennedy is also a Pigeon ally, and he was at the forefront of the 2010 legislature coup I noted above. He barely won last night. This was a fun race to watch last night as Betty Jean Grant came up from an 80/20 deficit to take the lead for a brief time. In the end, Tim Kennedy appears to have won in a squeaker, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this ends up in court for some time – the margin of victory is less than 300 votes. This new district includes a great deal of Buffalo’s east side, and as those precincts reported last night, Betty Jean surged unexpectedly. 

A-149: Sean Ryan handily defeated Kevin Gaughan. Gaughan really deserves to be given a chance to be elected to something because he’s smart and has great ideas. His problem is that he has a small constituency that isn’t as politically active and astute as Ryan’s entire Hoyt machine. This isn’t even about money, it’s about organization. 

UPDATE: Ralph Lorigo lost his bid to be elected to the Conservative Party’s state committee. (HT to TonyinTonawanda in comments)

Christopher Scanlon easily fended off three challengers to keep his South District seat in the Common Council. 

Olate Dogs defeated comedian Tom Cotter to win America’s Got Talent. A total disappointment. 

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is one of the most popular television shows in America. Shh! It’s a Wig.


  • With Grisanti and Amodeo shedding the worst of their party’s potential mud-slingers in the primary, I wonder if there might be an actual race on issues and ideas to come? I’m curious how free-thinking Dems will view this: vote for the unknown out of partisan habit, or reward the guy who put them over the top on one of their top issues? I personally hope its the second – it would be nice for somone in politics to be rewarded for doing the right thing at least once.

    • If the race comes down to anything, it’ll probably be over hydrofracking. I’ll be interested to see whether Amodeo pulls in support now from DSCC, which had been supporting Swanick. 

      • One thing to keep in mind, Mike Amodeo got 7400 votes in his primary win, Mark Grisanti
        got about 2000.   That should tell you something about the numbers.

  • tonyintonawanda

    Great analysis…but you missed a big loser and I’m shocked since it’s one of your least favorite people in the political word.  Ralph Lorigo lost his state committee post last night.  There were two slates of 12 for 12 slots.  Lorigo and his minions versus reformers.  The reformers won 11 of 12 essentially shutting Lorigo out of any statewide nomination discussions for the Conservative Party.

    This is particularly ironic since the Erie County weighted vote is very significant because of the Paladino performance for governor.  Karma is a bitch.

    • Good catch – I was watching that earlier in the night and noticed at once point that Lorigo wasn’t doing as well as one might expect from a county chair.  I was up way past my bedtime and didn’t bother to check this morning while writing this. Thanks for pointing it out!

      • Just out of curiousity, what constitutes a ‘reformer’ in the Conservative Party?

      • tonyintonawanda

        Anyone who’s not Lorgio, I guess.

  • I agree with everything you said except about Kevin Gaughan.  The 144 and now 149 AD is an area used toliberal, but practical politicians, people who also bring home the bacon.   If Kevin Gaughan had ever wonhis race and did as he promised in the campaign, this district would have suffered because Kevin would have been marginalized in Albany.    He said one true thing during that campaign, that the politicians don’tlike him.  That’s the 100% gospel truth and I can attest to the fact that public officials and party officials atevery level don’t like him.   He thinks he’s so much better than them and it comes across.  Still he has hiscult followers.   And those are the people who Kevin would have to work with in Albany.   What a disasterhe would have been.

    While Kevin is busy spinning utopian schemes about reforming the whole state, Sean Ryan concentrateson things that people actually care about.   The crowning achievement of his first, but partial term inAlbany is his legislation along with Tim Kennedy in the Senate about curbing prescription drug abuse.   Asfar as I’m concerned the fact that people in New York State might not die because of Sean Ryan is more important than all that Kevin Gaughan ever did in his life.

    • Brian Bray

      Kevin Gaughan was the wrong candidate in the wrong race in the wrong year. There was not a sufficient argument why Kevin wants to be in the State Assembly now. Hopefully he learned from the process and stays engaged in our community.

      • Not learned too much about the mechanics.   When he went before SDWNY one of the things he touted was bringing referendum to the state.   I thought it was mind boggling
        that before a gay audience whose civil rights and now marriage rights have been trashed
        before church inspired referendums like in California with Proposition 8 he would advocate such a thing.  Of course he personally was against the use of referendum for
        such things, but still it was a fabulous idea.   That’s Kevin’s problem in a nutshell, he wants
        to get in to push HIS ideas, HIS conception of redoing the political system.  He couldn’t
        give a damn about the problems of ordinary folks and doesn’t listen at all.

  • So what does Matt Ricchiazzi have to do to earn the moniker “execrable”?

  • Carl Gorney

    Alan: Just as an FYI: Kennedy’s lead is now down to double digits, and they still have over a thousand absentee ballots to count. And THAT won’t be done until next Thursday.