Driving BMW Out of the Party
by Geoff Kelly
Last Saturday, the executive committee of the Erie County Democratic Party did as everyone expected them to do: They refused to endorse incumbent Barbara Miller-Williams as the Democratic candidate for the new District 1 seat on the Erie County Legislature.
Miller-Williams rose to be chair of the legislature by caucusing with its six Republicans and two other rogue Democrats, in a deal brokered between operatives in the camps of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (a Democrat), Erie County Executive Chris Collins (a Republican), and Congressman Brian Higgins (a Democrat).
The executive committee is largely made up of Democrats who oppose Brown and Higgins, so the vote to punish Miller-Williams for consorting with Republicans is no surprise. (Incumbent Tim Whalen, a Higgins ally, was likewise passed over for endorsement. The third rogue, Tina Bove, was endorsed because there were no other viable Democrats in her district.) The committee instead chose Tim Hogues, a newcomer to politics put forward by Champ Eve, a party vice chair and deputy commissioner of the Erie County Board of Elections. (He’s also the son of former Assemblyman Arthur Eve.) Hogues received 34 votes, BMHA resident commissioner Joe Mascia received four, and Miller-Williams received the two votes of the only Brown allies who bothered to show at the meeting: Mike Darby and Geraldine Ford.
Miller-Williams won’t go quietly. She has filed a nominating petition for an independent party line (she calls it the “Community First” party) with more than 3,000 signatures. She is likely to get the Independence Party endorsement, too. She may also sue the Democratic Party, arguing that the party disregarded a judge’s order and its own rules on how candidates for the new legislative districts would be selected. That suit, if she files it, could go either way, depending on the judge.
Mascia has the Conservative Party’s endorsement. So there likely will be three candidates for District 1 in November. Can Champ Eve deliver an election for his candidate? Can Miller-Williams attract voters to minor party lines? Can Mascia, who is white, slip into office because two African-American candidates split the black vote?
Will this ruckus draw the district’s Democrats to the polls, giving further hope to Collins’s Democratic challenger, Mark Poloncarz?blog comments powered by Disqus
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