Four Erie County Races Could Decide Party Chairman’s Future
Tuesday Night is likely a make or break night for Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Jeremy Zellner. There are four races to watch on Election Night in Erie County; two experts agree Zellner needs to win two of them.
Two county legislature races in the suburbs could flip control of the legislature to the GOP. Political insiders say the key to winning those two seats, and the county wide races for Sheriff and Comptroller, is turnout.
“When you have an off-year election, and it’s an off-year election where you don’t have the County Executive’s race on the ballot in Erie County, turnout is always a challenge,” said Republican Analyst Vic Martucci.
Buffalo’s Mayor, Democrat Byron Brown, is up for re-election. In a contested race that would drive Democratic turnout in the city. Martucci says this is not a contested race.
“I would be surprised if the turnout is heavy in the city of Buffalo. I expect the mayor to win and win handily and I don’t think that turnout is going to be sufficient enough where it’s going to have an impact on the countywide races,” Martucci said.
Democrats hold a two-to-one enrollment edge in Erie County. Low voter turnout, particularly in the City of Buffalo, would work against Democrat Kevin Gaughan in his bid to unseat Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw.
“With his limited resources, and he has limited resources, he’s going to focus on trying to get the city vote out and make it a larger percentage of the overall turnout,” said Martucci.
Mychajliw, a former television reporter, easily defeated Democrat David Shenk in last November’s Special Election. Gaughan, is well-known himself for his advocacy for government consolidation.
“He certainly has some name identification. Whether or not that translates into votes is another issue,” Martucci said.
But it’s not just the expected low turnout that could aid Republican Sheriff Tim Howard. Two Democrats are expected to split the opposition vote.
Democrat Bert Dunn lost the Democratic Primary to Dick Dobson, but he remains in the race under the Law and Order Party he created.
“He’s doing what he should have done in the primary, which is spend a whole lot of money and he would’ve been the nominee I think,” said Canisius College Political Science Professor Michael Haselswerdt.
Dunn has spent $200,000 since losing the primary. While some believe Dunn will draw votes from both Dobson and Howard, it’s likely he’ll take more from Dobson.
“He and Dobson are both affiliated with the Democrats in some way. I think he makes it easier for Howard to skate,” Haselswerdt said.
Losing the Comptroller and Sheriff races would certainly look bad for Zellner, but both Martucci and Haselswerdt say there are two other races he needs more.
“He could lose the legislature, which means he’d lose his job in the legislature. It could be a really tough night,” said Haselswerdt.
Zellner is employed by the Erie County Legislature as the Democratic Majority Chief of Staff. It’s a majority that will likely be lost if the Democrats lose one of two suburban legislature seats.
Analysts say the Democrats will likely need to win two contested legislature races in Amherst and in a Cheektowaga-Depew-Lancaster based seat to hold the majority.
Zellner’s hold on the Chairmanship has been considered shaky at best. A marginally successful challenge was mounted by some disgruntled Democrats who formed a political action committee. Two PAC funded candidates, including Dick Dobson, pulled primary night upsets.
Haselswerdt says a bad night for Zellner will lead to another challenge from Frank Max who Zellner narrowly defeated in a hotly contested race for Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman last year.
“If it’s Zellner versus Max after this is all over, I think Max is probably going to be able to supplant him,” Haselswerdt said.
For Zellner, and the Democratic Candidates in these four important races, it will come down to turnout. To generate the kind of turnout needed, Haselswerdt and Martucci say Zellner will have to overcome conventional wisdom.
“There’s no races that anybody that doesn’t care about politics, which is very few people, are going to tune into,” Haselswerdt added.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Casey Bortnick on November 5, 2013 at 12:48 am, and is filed under 2013, Democrats, Erie County. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|