Around and About: As Pivotal State Senate Race Heats Up, Stocker Speaks Up!

BY TONY FARINA

Stocker Rips GOP, Jacobs in Letter to Party Faithful

Hard-campaigning State Senate candidate Kevin Stocker is taking aim at the Republican establishment as he gets ready to take on the party’s endorsed candidate Chris Jacobs in the Sept. 13 GOP primary for the 60th District seat being vacated by Democrat Marc Panepinto under a cloud of scandal.

In a recent letter to local Republicans, Stocker, who narrowly lost to Panepinto in 2014 after winning a bitter GOP primary against then-incumbent Mark Grisanti, says in his letter to the party faithful that “we have a government controlled by corrupt Party Bosses along with their wealthy financial donors.  This race for NYS Senate’s 60th District is so important because it will decide who will control New York State’s government and what, if any, ethics reform gets done on your behalf.  Because of their corruption, I did not ask for, nor would I accept if offered, the Party Bosses endorsement for State Senate.  I want to earn the trust, support and endorsement of the Republican voters in the primary election on September 13th.”

Stocker puts his money where his mouth his, and the Kenmore attorney has bankrolled his door-to-door campaign as he looks to knock off the wealthy Jacobs who was tapped by the local GOP committee in part because of his ability to raise lots of money given his family connections and his strong showing in winning election as Erie County clerk.

In his letter, Stocker says he took on the corrupt Party Bosses in 2014 by forcing a Republican primary election and in so doing “took the power away from the Party bosses and gave it back to your family so you could have a ‘Voice’ in deciding who should fight for your family’s rights.”  Instead, he said the GOP bosses spent millions to beat him, the same bosses he says are now being investigated for criminal behavior that became public during the trial of Republican Senate Leader Dean Skelos that ended in his conviction.

Kevin Stocker Rips GOP Bosses
Kevin Stocker Rips GOP Bosses

Stocker says GOP bosses in Albany had a NYC developer, Glenwood Management, send over $100,000 to the Erie County Republican Party boss “so that it could be used to defeat what the Republican primary voters wanted, me to fight for their families.”

Now, he says, the Albany and downtown Buffalo party bosses have endorsed another career politician and establishment insider, Chris Jacobs, to run for NYS Senate.  But he had much more to say about his opponent: “Chris Jacobs has been controlled his entire career by the establishment’s Party Bosses and their big money special interest donors during his tenure in the failed Erie County Giambra Administration, unethically profiting off the City of Buffalo’s School District as leader of the dysfunctional City School board, in the Pataki and Bush Administrations, and currently runs his development company while serving as the Erie County Clerk.”  He added that Jacobs is supported by his wealthy development connections that profit off our government, calling him the “ultimate establishment insider.”

If there was any doubt about Stocker’s commitment to take on Jacobs in September, the fiery letter certainly puts that to rest and seems to guarantee that Jacobs will have a fight on his hands in the GOP primary even before one of them will face the Democratic candidate, community activist Amber Small, in the general election in November.

Small, the executive director of the Parkside Community Association, has also made cleaning up Albany one of her campaign themes, and while she is a relative political unknown, she stepped up when more prominent Democrats shied away from the race and she is steadily winning grassroots support, suggesting she could be a factor in a district where Democrats enjoy a nearly 2 to 1 advantage, especially if Trump’s campaign stumbles against Clinton and Democrats stay with their party.

DA Race Heating Up

The race for Erie County district attorney is starting to heat up as endorsed Democratic and Conservative candidate John Flynn is counting the dollars raised last week at a fundraiser hosted by developer Nick Sinatra and businessman Mike Lawley at the Market Arcade.

The Flynn camp said the Tonawanda town attorney and former town judge collected about $90,000 at the event and attracted a strong turnout of political heavyweights including representatives from the office of Rep. Brian Higgins.

Flynn will need all the money he can bring in as he will face Acting DA Mike Flaherty in the Democratic primary and Joe Treanor in a Conservative primary.  Treanor, a totally unknown former Air Force attorney, is also the Republican-endorsed candidate for the top local prosecutor’s job even though he seems to lack any legal experience in New York State.

Flaherty had an early fundraising lead over Flynn but it appears the gap may be narrowing and we’ll know more come the first filing deadline of July 15th.

Probe Hurting Buffalo Billion Project

The federal probe underway by U. S. Attorney Preet Bharara may be taking its toll on the Buffalo Billion project, according to veteran Albany political writer Fredric Dicker of the New York Post.

In a column this week, Dicker wrote that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s multi-billion-dollar upstate development plans, including the massive Buffalo Billion project, “may be derailed by growing nervousness from IBM and other companies over the continuing corruption probes.”

Dicker says he has learned from a source that IBM, a major player in the state’s high tech development efforts for more than a decade, has decided to “cease all new investments and additional hiring” regarding the plans until the probes are concluded.  Dicker also claims important contracting decisions and basic bill-paying for work already under way are being delayed.

How all of this will eventually impact the SolarCity project in South Buffalo that is supposed to bring thousands of jobs to Buffalo remains to be seen but there are plenty of signs of trouble right here as the investigation and finger pointing heats up.  There were workers laid off briefly last February when the state fell behind in funding the project, and just this week there was another funding delay that threatened to shut down operations only to be averted by a $33 million state bailout.  We asked in February and ask again now, who’s watching the store?

With subpoenas flying around and state officials from Cuomo on down under scrutiny, it is no wonder the project’s investors are nervous and looking for more information before they pour any more money into fire. One can only hope that the Buffalo Billion signature project doesn’t fall victim to the investigation and leave the city out in the cold again.