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Posts by Casey Bortnick
Mar 6th - 1:16 am
It appears Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins will have a challenger for this fall’s midterm election. The Erie County Republican Committee confirmed Wednesday Night that Kathy Weppner will announce her candidacy in New York’s 26th Congressional District, Friday morning.
The former conservative radio talk show host will make it official during a press conference at Amherst Town Hall. A well-known caller, Weppner was given her own weekend show on WBEN before leaving the station in November of 2012.
Weppner announced on her website this week she’d be challenging Higgins:
“I want you to join me in a fight to take back Washington and return it to the people. This is not a Republican, Democrat, Conservative or Independent fight. This is an American fight and we better rise up together before it is too late! Elect me to represent you and I will fight for the liberty, freedom and prosperity that brave Americans have fought and died for. All of our futures and the future of those we love depend on us to do this.”
Taking on Higgins won’t be easy. The incumbent Democrat has name recognition and a significant Democratic enrollment advantage in the district.
Weppner may even have to win over some in her own party. Several well-known Western New York Republicans have not only supported the South Buffalo Democrat, they’ve raised money for him.
Higgins has not made an official announcement but his supporters are already passing out petitions.
Mar 6th - 12:14 am
Just hours after officially entering the Governor’s race, Rob Astorino announced Western New York would be one of his first stops. Given the extra attention paid to the region by Governor Cuomo, local Republican leaders aren’t surprised.
“It’s important for any candidate for statewide office to travel the state as much as they possibly can. They need to get in front of people. He won’t just come here to do a press conference. He’ll certainly meet with business leaders and people in the community,” said Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy.
Gaining Langworthy’s support seems like a must for any candidate wanting to win the GOP nomination. Langworthy helped engineer Carl Paladino’s unlikely primary upset out of Buffalo in 2010.
Both Astorino and potential Republican candidate Donald Trump have already appeared at fundraising events for the Erie County Republican Committee. Langworthy told Time Warner Cable News Reporter Ryan Whalen Wednesday he’s still not ready to make an endorsement.
“I’ve said I wouldn’t endorse candidates until they declared their formal candidacy. Rob now has. We’ll see if we have one candidate or two candidates,” Langworthy said.
Langworthy has been supportive of Astorino, but, like many Republican County Chairs, he’s waiting to see if Trump is still interested before giving out his coveted endorsement.
“Do we have one have candidate or two candidates that want the endorsement? We will hear from Donald Trump on Tuesday in Syracuse as to what maybe his plans might be. I haven’t talked to him in about a week but looking forward to hear what he has to say when he visits Syracuse,” said Langworthy.
Astorino will appear at the ZeptoMetrix Corporation headquarters on Main Street in Buffalo Thursday Afternoon with Republican Congressman, and former Erie County Executive, Chris Collins. Collins a shareholder in the company, and was not available for comment on Wednesday.
“They have a longstanding relationship back to when they served together as county executives and they have a great appreciation of one another. So he may very well endorse him. I do not know if he will or not,” said Langworthy.
No matter who wins the GOP nomination to challenge Governor Cuomo, Langworthy believes the party’s running mate should come from Western New York. State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin’s name was mentioned as a possible Lt. Governor candidate Wednesday and Langworthy loved the idea.
“I think they share a lot of common values. I think she has fought for the same common sense business perspectives that we need in Albany, not just more of the same special interest nonsense. She would be a great Lieutenant Governor for any Governor,” Langworthy added.
The Erie County Republican Committee has its regional screening meeting April 12. It’s hoping to vet as many statewide candidates as possible, including gubernatorial candidates.
No matter what happens, Langworthy hopes the party will unite behind one candidate.
Mar 5th - 1:34 am
Besides a possible challenge from Donald Trump, Westerchester County Executive Rob Astorino could still be facing a challenge from former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, but not on the conservative line. While reacting to the likelihood Astorino will indeed announce he’s running for governor, Paladino acknowledged he may need a new line on the ballot if he decides to challenge Astorino.
“Mike Long appears to be supporting Astorino right now so it would have to be a new party line that I would form. I don’t know why Mike Long took the position he did I can’t answer that. But I certainly respect him,” Paladino said.
Paladino is not backing off of his promise to challenge Astorino if he doesn’t call for the removal of Republican State Senator Dean Skelos and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.
“If he (Astorino) comes out and denounces these people and purges them from the party I will campaign for him. How can you run for governor of the state of New York if your supposed supporters are in bed with your opponent? It doesn’t make any sense. Donald Trump would bury them,” said Paladino.
The Buffalo Businessman continues to believe Trump is the man for the job. While many continue to believe “Trump for Governor” is a pipe dream Paladino isn’t wavering.
“I respect Rob Astroino and expect him to do the right thing if he gets the opportunity. I don’t think the opportunity is going to be there because I think Donald Trump is going to announce that he is going to run for that office,” Paladino added.
Feb 28th - 10:21 pm
When Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino announced he was running for the Buffalo Public School Board, more than a few political observers found the idea laughable. A year after easily winning a seat on the board, few are still laughing.
“One of the criticisms of Carl Paladino when he was running for governor was that he didn’t have a good understanding of the ins and outs of government and parliamentary procedure. I think a lot of people have watched what he’s done on the school board and have been impressed,” said Democratic Strategist Jack O’Donnell.
Paladino was adamant he never intended to use the Buffalo Public School Board as a way to remain visible in the public eye, but admits it may have been an unintended consequence.
“The press is always looking for a motive. I don’t need to stay relevant. I’m not here to learn about educational techniques. I’m not looking to hold a higher office. I don’t need that. I’m 67-years-old I just want to help this community,” Paladino said.
Others who’ve tried to their hand at Western New York politics are hoping to follow in Paladino’s footsteps. Former Buffalo Mayoral Candidates Bernie Tolbert and Sergio Rodriguez are seeking a seat on the school board in May.
Paladino believes they plan to use the board as a stepping stone to something else.
“It’s probably true. I don’t think either one of them will be relevant in the future,” said Paladino.
Whether or not Paladino is still relevant depends on who you ask, of course. But there are few people who have been written off as many times and still continue to make headlines.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt his voice is still relevant,” O’Donnell said.
Besides all things Buffalo School Board-related, Paladino is using whatever influence he has to rally support behind a potential Donald Trump gubernatorial bid.
“He’s the number one brand in America and I think he could defeat Andrew Cuomo,” Paladino said.
Even before the effort to “Draft Trump” was launched, Paladino threatened to challenge any GOP candidate on the Conservative line if they didn’t call for the removal of the State Senate’s top Republican, Dean Skelos, and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.
“Republicans and Conservatives statewide are still talking to or talking about Carl Paladino. There are a lot people who underestimate or don’t listen to him at their own peril,” said O’Donnell.
Paladino’s continued popularity in certain circles has allowed him to put pressure on State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino to get out of Trump’s way.
“Astorino is a good man and he’d a make a good governor, but getting there is the problem. Winning is the problem. Having the name recognition, and having the money it’s just not there,” Paladino said.
For Paladino it’s more about dragging the Republican Party and ultimately the state to the political right than it is about being governor. Four years after his upset win in the GOP Primary, Paladino believes he still has unfinished business.
“We haven’t seen the change I envisioned. All we’ve seen is the same old nonsense from Cuomo. If you ask in this state if their lives are better than they were four years ago I think they’ll tell you no,” Paladino said.
While Governor Cuomo’s polling numbers remain strong, Paladino says Cuomo is vulnerable on issues like the NY SAFE Act, and hydrofracking.
“He’s deprived the entire Upstate population, the Southern Tier population, of an economic opportunity for no good reason Thirty-seven states drill, 36 frack. There’s no reason that we shouldn’t frack. Inciting the people into worrying about their water table getting infected, it’s all nonsense,” Paladino added.
Paladino has never been afraid to speak his mind or “ruffle people’s feathers.” It’s a quality that his supporters love, and his detractors hate.
“It works both ways. There are those who argue Carl has turned the school board into a circus. It’s all in the eye of the beholder,” O’Donnell said.
And, if you’re one of those who is tired of seeing Paladino on TV, or seeing his name in print, he says don’t blame him.
“I never wanted to be relevant. I never call the press. The press calls me,” Paladino added.
Feb 25th - 11:30 pm
The “Kids Before Cons Act.” It’s the name of a new piece of legislation introduced by three New York Congressmen on Tuesday.
The bill, sponsored by Republicans Chris Collins, Tom Reed, and Chris Gibson, would prohibit the use of federal taxpayer dollars to provide a college education to convicted criminals. The measure is a response to Governor Cuomo’s proposal to provide free College Education to inmates at 10 state prisons.
“The Governor’s latest plan to fund college educations for convicted criminals using taxpayer dollars is an insult to law abiding citizens all across our state,” Collins said.
All three GOP sponsors said the Governor’s plan sends the wrong message.
“College students in New York leave school with an average of nearly $26,000 in student loans, a huge undertaking for any family,” said Reed.
“We can do better than spend federal taxpayer dollars on the education of convicted criminals when our hardworking New Yorkers need the assistance themselves,” Gibson said.
Collins plans to take action during the House Appropriations process to ensure no funds in any particular bill are used to fund college courses for convicted criminals. Collins says the “Kids Before Cons Act” does not ban states from using federal dollars to support GED or work training programs in prisons and correctional facilities.
“We must put our college kids before cons,” Collins added.
The Governor’s office provided no immediate response the congressional proposal.
Feb 11th - 11:30 pm
Despite what appears to be a new effort to convince Carl Paladino to run for New York Comptroller the Buffalo Businessman says he has one focus right now.
“Getting Donald Trump to run for governor,” Paladino said.
The 2010 Republican Gubernatorial Candidate told Time Warner Cable News Reporter Ryan Whalen, Tuesday night, he believes recent public comments by State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long are designed to put pressure on Trump.
“What they’re doing right now is playing cards. So Astorino and Cox and Mike Long, they’ve come out and they’ve said ‘Trump, make up your mind and tell us what you’re going to do.’ And I would expect that Mr. Trump is going to come out and say it very soon. He’s going to say that he’s running,” said Paladino.
It’s not just Trump’s potential competition that seems to be getting antsy. Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy is hoping to get some answers during an afternoon meeting with Trump, Wednesday in Manhattan.
“I guess what we’re looking for is a signal from Mr. Trump. Is he going to take those next steps and move ahead with this or not?” Langworthy asked.
Langworthy will join several other county republican chairs and the two Western New York State Assemblymen who came up with the “Draft Trump” idea at Trump Tower. He expects others at the meeting to ask similar questions.
“The ball’s in Mr. Trump’s court on how serious he’s going to take this process. I mean is he going to take some tangible steps forward?”
Gaining Nick Langworthy’s support has seemed more important this election cycle than ever before. Following Paladino’s successful primary win over Rick Lazio, Buffalo has been an important area for anyone considering a run for governor.
Langworthy’s committee has hosted both Astorino and Trump at fundraising events in the last few months. Langworthy helped author Paladino’s successful primary bid four years ago but has no interest in a primary this time around.
“We’re into February and it’s time that we start rounding out our ticket. We ultimately will nominate candidates in May, but we have to recruit candidates for Comptroller and Attorney General for the state. So it’s important we get clarity at the top of the ticket,” Langworthy said.
Paladino, who will not be attending Wednesday’s meeting, says Trump will not bend to what he called pressure from Mike Long, Dean Skelos, or anybody else.
“He’ll make his statement when he’s ready and I admire him for that. Donald Trump will demolish Andrew Cuomo. He’ll demolish people like Dean Skelos,” said Paladino.
As for Paladino’s future he declined to comment on speculation he’ll challenge Astorino on the Conservative Party Line if Trump drops out. He also dismissed the effort to convince him to run for Comptroller, for now.
“They’re trying to divert my attention from Trump. I’ve been working really hard on getting Donald Trump to run for this and I feel very sincerely that he will. (I have) laser focus. We’re doing it. We’re bringing all these county chairs there tomorrow and it’s going to be a nice conclave they’re going to have there in New York,” Paladino added.
Feb 11th - 1:14 am
Republican leaders will make another attempt Wednesday to convince real estate mogul Donald Trump to run for governor. Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy wouldn’t describe the nature of the meeting but confirmed he will be among the “various county chairs” attending.
State Assemblyman David DiPietro, who will also be in Manhattan for the meeting, told Time Warner Cable News Buffalo the meeting is another step in the process for Trump. It’s a process that saw Trump speaking before a sold out crowd of Western NY Republicans in Depew late last month.
DiPietro and State Assemblyman Bill Nojay hatched the “Draft Trump” movement this past summer during a dinner meeting. Trump has said he would only run if the party unites, meaning Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and State GOP Chairman Ed Cox would have to get behind him.
Astorino has not officially announced, but he recently formed an exploratory committee. The top Republican in the State Senate said, Monday, Astorino will run for Governor and that he believes Trump was never serious about making a run.
Buffalo Businessman Carl Paladino is still considering a run for governor on the Conservative line if Trump doesn’t run.
Feb 4th - 8:43 pm
Buffalo Businessman and 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino’s name is being circulated as a possible GOP candidate for state comptroller.
Paladino confirmed he has been approached by a member of the state GOP about running for the office, but he isn’t interested – for now.
“I rejected it, right now, because I’m focused on getting Donald Trump to run for governor,” Paladino said. “I’ll deal with everything else once Mr. Trump has made a decision.”
State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox said the topic of Paladino for comptroller hasn’t come up “yet.” When asked if Paladino could do the job Cox replied:
“I’d love to find out if he’s interested. He’s certainly concerned about how institutions like school districts and public authorities manage their funds. Auditing is a big part of the job.”
Paladino isn’t completely ruling out a challenge to incumbent Democratic state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, but he’s not ruling out another run for governor either.
During an interview, Paladino reiterated his promise to challenge Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino on the Conservative Party line if Astorino doesn’t heed his call to support the ouster of Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.
“If Trump doesn’t run and Astorino still doesn’t denounce the Republican leaders in the state Legislature, I might as well try to drag the party to the right side of the equation,” Paladino added.
As the GOP continues to try to fill out the ticket for this fall names like Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, and former Congressional candidate Joe Carvin have been mentioned as possible challengers to DiNapoli.
Meantime John Cahill, a former top aide to ex-Gov. George Pataki, has made no secret of his interest in running for Attorney General. Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy also floated former Western New York US Attorney Michael Battle’s name as a possible AG candidate last week.
Feb 1st - 3:35 am
Donald Trump told an enthusiastic Western New York crowd Friday night that he’s leaving the door open to a possible run for governor.
But, given the conditions he has laid out for the state Repiblican Party, it appears that door is closing quickly.
Trump was the featured guest at a fundraising dinner for the Erie County Republican Committee in Depew. With state GOP Chairman Ed Cox sitting in the audience, Trump took the podium and criticized him.
“You need strong leadership and honestly you don’t have that strong leadership right now. You don’t have that at the top, top level,” Trump said.
Trump has made it clear he wants no part of a potential GOP primary with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.
Before Trump’s 757 even touched down he told Bob McCarthy of the Buffalo News if Astorino doesn’t bow out soon he’ll move on.
Trump supporters, including Buffalo Businessman Carl Paladino, had been calling on Cox to pressure all the potential candidates to get behind whoever emerges from the convention.
For Trump it now appears that’s not good enough.
“I want to see a unified party. You see the kind of response we have today. I want to see a unified party. If we have a unified party I will do it,” said Trump.
Trump did spend most of his 30 minute speech critiquing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s leadership. Trump called New York the highest taxed and most anti-business state in the union.
The real estate mogul-turned reality TV star said that if he’s elected he would support hydrofracking and Second Amendment rights.
“They want to take away your guns with the SAFE Act which I call the UnSAFE Act, which is one of the great catastrophes,” said Trump.
Despite the “Buffalo Billion” and a clear focus on Western New York in his first term, Trump accused Cuomo of only paying attention to the region around election time. He described most of the planned development as promises that won’t be kept.
“Buffalo is suffering badly. It’s failing. It’s not going to be here for very long and Buffalois really emblematic of what’s wrong with the state,” Trump added.
Despite Trump’s ultimatum for a clear path to the GOP nomination the state party chair seemed unfazed.
Cox told the Buffalo News after Trump’s speech that the party has two good candidates.
Jan 31st - 1:59 am
On the eve of his much anticipated visit to Western New York potential gubernatorial candidate Donald Trump continued to pressure state Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino to get behind him, or get out of his way.
Trump told WBEN’s Tom Bauerle Thursday Night that a Republican Primary would only work in Governor Cuomo’s favor.
“I do believe I’m the only one that can win. I believe I will win, but they’ve got to get behind me. I don’t want to fight someone who has no chance of winning and then get the nomination and you’re wounded. Because it’s going to be a very tough election,” Trump said.
Trump will appear at a sold out fundraiser for the Erie County Republican Committee Friday Night in Depew. Western New York has become a priority for any potential GOP contender.
It’s where Buffalo Businessman Carl Paladino launched a successful challenge to the party endorsed gubernatorial candidate in 2010. Paladino fell to Cuomo in the general election.
“He was hurt badly by the lack of cohesion and by Ed Cox and all these characters are doing things up there,” said Trump.
Trump believes history is repeating itself.
“How would you like to be running as a Carl Paladino, and you have a chairman – the head of the party – who tries to draft a Democrat, who tries to take someone from another party and pit them against you? And I thought that was so terrible and essentially the same thing is happening right now,” Trump said.
The Western New York Republicans that hatched the “Draft Trump” movement are calling on Cox to call on all interested parties to abide by the choice of the convention.
Trump didn’t mention Astorino specifically but implied there are those more interested in raising their profile than defeating Governor Cuomo.
“What I don’t want is to go through a primary with people who have no chance of winning, that maybe want to build themselves up. If they want to build themselves up that’s fine. Good luck to them. But they’re not going to win,” said Trump
Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy is expecting more than 600 people for Friday’s reception.
Langworthy, who hosted Astorino in Buffalo in December, admits Trump’s celebrity status gives this event a different feel.
“It’s created a tremendous amount of buzz here inWestern New York. A lot of people are talking about this event and you don’t run into anyone who doesn’t know the name Donald Trump,” Langworthy said.
It’s a buzz that Trump hopes sends a clear message to Cox and Astorino.
“I won’t use names but if he (Langworthy) had the same kind of event for someone else, or some other people, there would be no one there. It would be like death,” Trump added.