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Well, Thank God That Election is Over

Democrats receiving mixed news at the Ellicott Square Building. (photo by Geoff Kelly)

Billions of dollars, brain cells, and words have been expended this election season, and the analysis is sure to keep coming. So, in the spirit of alternative journalism—that is to say, not lavishing space on the things you will read about everywhere else—we will make this brief and hopefully painless:

Carl Paladino of Ellicott Development and David Buonerba, CEO of Trans American, a local customs brokerage, joined the ranks of CEOs who wrote to their employees encouraging them to vote for Republican Mitt Romney. Perhaps this practice, rich guys telling their less-than-rich employees to vote for another rich guy, can be credited for some sliver of Barack Obama’s margin victory on Tuesday.

• Every single time that I have attended the Erie County Democratic Party’s election night confab at the Ellicott Square Building, Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak has taken to the podium to deliver his victory remarks within two minutes of my arrival. Coincidence?

The Ellicott Square Building is, of course, Paladino country. The new chairman of the Erie County Democrats, Jeremy Zellner, said during his campaign for the job that he would make it a priority to find new digs for the party, rather than continue to pay rent to the outspoken Republican. Both parties will no doubt be pleased to shed one another.

• Rarely, and perhaps never, has it happened that Democrats had a great night nationally while locally it was a great night for Republicans. The three candidates that the Erie County Democratic Party put the most effort into—Mike Amodeo for State Senate, Kathy Hochul for Congress, and David Shenk for Erie County comptroller—all lost to Republicans.

Amodeo was a victim of Mark Grisanti’s incumbency and popularity; his haul of votes combined with those for Chuck Swanick on the Conservative line would not have been enough to beat Grisanti. Amodeo was a victim as well of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s preference for Grisanti and a Republican-controlled State Senate, which resulted in big Democratic donors sitting on their hands in this race out of deference to the governor.

David Shenk lost to Stefan Mychajliw, an amiable TV personality with absolutely no experience relevant to his new job, because nobody knew who Shenk was and he proved to be a tepid campaigner. Consider this: The Obama/Biden ticket scored about 220,000 votes in Erie County on Tuesday. Shenk got about 173,000. So 47,000 Obama voters either couldn’t be bothered to vote for the only Democrat in a countywide race or migrated to the Republican.

As for Hochul, what is there to say? Chris Collins should have run away with this race, given the Republican enrollment advantage in the 27th Congressional District, but instead he eked out a victory and revived his political career, which had seemed, mercifully, to have reached its conclusion when he lost his bid for re-election as county executive last year.

Collins had this to say to the Buffalo News’s Bob McCarthy about that defeat:

[Collins] attributed his loss in his November 2011 race for re-election as Erie County Executive to Mark C. Poloncarz to an overwhelming Democratic populous being “satisfied” with the job he did to save the county from economic peril. They viewed his job as done, effectively, according to Collins.

“Once it was fixed, they hired one of their own to run [Erie County],” Collins said of last year’s voters.

Collins said, in retrospect, his slim loss last year proved to be an blessing unknown at the time.

Right: Voters canned him because he’d done such a good job. What a jackass. He’ll feel right at home in the GOP majority in Congress, which has already expressed its intention to continue hamstringing Obama at every opportunity.

The losses by Shenk and Amodeo are not good news for Poloncarz, who chose and championed both candidates. Nor was Tuesday night an auspicious start for Zellner, the party’s new chairman. Democratic headquarters is shrinking: Its rival and freelance factions seem farther away than they were even a year ago. It is at odds with a popular Democratic governor and the city’s mayor, who once again will run for re-election next year with no regard to whether he is endorsed by his own party. Zellner needs to find a way to draw the party together fast, or Republicans will continue to make gains outside the city while Democrats squabble.

• Cuomo may have a Democrat-controlled State Senate on his hands despite his support for Grisanti and other Republicans who voted to legalize same-sex marriage, depending on what the four-member caucus of independent Democrats decides to do, as Democrats apparently have picked up several seats. Which means Democrat Tim Kennedy will be Western New York’s big man in the State Senate, while Grisanti, George Maziarz, and Mike Ranzenhofer become back-benchers.

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