Sunday, September 27, 2009

Primary Punditry

We can't let September slip away without a few notes on the party primaries earlier in the month.

1.   Best Performance in a Comedy

Jerri Kaiser, endorsed by the Democratic Party as candidate for County Legislator in the 20th Legislative District, lost the Democratic nomination -- to her incumbent Republican opponent, Robert Colby.

Kaiser is press secretary to Congressman Massa and was a member of the Democrat and Chronicle's editorial board.   Her candidacy for County Legislature was important enough to the party that Chairman Joe Morelle carried her nominating petitions himself, with chief errand-boy Vinnie Esposito in tow.   A State Assembly staffer working for Morelle, Esposito's also a legislator in Irondequoit.

2.   Reversal of Fortune

Speaking of Irondequoit, John DiMarco, Republican Town Justice who lost the Independence Party primary in a previous bid to become a County Court judge, nailed it this time.   DiMarco scored a 2-to-1 win to take the Independence line on the November ballot.   His Democratic opponent in this year's County Court race is Brian McCarthy, who returned from retirement in Texas for the county judgeship, as we reported back in April.

3.   Former Legislators Do Well.   Except in Chili.

Former county legislator Pete McCann clinched the GOP nomination for Parma Supervisor with a primary win over incumbent Richard Lemcke. Former legislator Karla Boyce emerged as top vote-getter in the Republican primary for Mendon Town Board.

McCann and Boyce continue an apparent trend. Former legislator Stephanie Aldersley easily transitioned to Irondequoit's Town Board when term-limited from running again for legislature. Former legislator Tony LaFountain seems well on his way to becoming the next Supervisor in Penfield, whose current Supervisor, George Wiedemer, also came from the County Legislature. Wiedemer became Supervisor by defeating then-incumbent Channing Philbrick (no relation) in a primary.

The exception to the rule seems to be in Chili, where former Republican Supervisor (and before that, County Legislator) Tracy Logel lost her party's primary for a Town Council seat. In addition, incumbent Chili Supervisor David Dunning beat a challenge from former legislator John Ferlicca, whose campaign closed with a sorry echo of a tactic in an earlier race that earned attorney Ferlicca a reprimand from the state bar.

4.   Biggest Win

The biggest margin on primary day was won in an Independence primary for Pittsford Town Justice, where GOP incumbent John Bernanke whacked Democrat Christopher Ciaccio with 85%.   Wins like this are rarely seen outside of staged votes in third-world despotisms.   On top of the Kaiser-Colby debacle, it was another cringing embarrassment for county Democrats.

5.   Most Significant Win

In Henrietta, Democratic candidate for County Legislature Mike Condello took the Independence line, defeating Republican candidate John Howland by 2-to-1 -- as a write-in candidate, no less.   Followers of local politics will recall that in 2007, Carmen Gumina did exactly the same thing, in a milestone step toward ultimately defeating incumbent Republican county legislator Dave Malta.

For Democrats the real prize this year is taking the County Legislature.   We'd say they wisely were willing to sustain a primary day embarrassment or two in order to focus their efforts and resources on the one that mattered the most.   Had she won her own party's primary, Jerri Kaiser would have lost the Ogden-Riga district to Republican Colby anyway.   For county Democrats, getting the Independence line for their candidate for the open legislative seat in Henrietta was Priority "A" for Primary Day.   For county Republicans, Robert Colby may have given them the last thing to smile about in regard to the legislature for the foreseeable future.

Little Joe's keeping his eye on the ball.

1 comment:

Inquiring Mind said...

Doesn't the Hatch Act bar federal employees from running for office in partisan elections?

Doesnt that mean Kaiser violated the Hatch Act by running in this race, if she's employed by Massa? Or is there some exception because it was write-in for both candidates? Maybe that's it.

If this had been a Republican candidate working for a Republican congressman, these questions would have been on the front page of the Democrat and Chronicle.