Some people to watch in Tuesday’s big primary election:
• Al Coppola: The veteran pol who served many years on the Common Council and briefly in the State Senate is eyeing Albany once again, and testing his staying power in the 60th Senate contest.
Coppola came within about 300 votes of knocking off endorsed Democrat Marc Panepinto in the 2014 primary. Nobody saw that coming. Except him.
Now he has dusted off his campaign signs to take on another endorsed candidate – Parkside Community Association Executive Director Amber Small.
The primary campaign sports a generational theme – newcomer versus veteran. But it also tests whether it all boils down to name recognition.
• Kevin Stocker: The rebel Repub won the GOP primary for 60th Senate in 2014, and by the tone of the attack ads launched by Albany Republicans, endorsed candidate Chris Jacobs may be hearing footsteps in this year’s Republican contest.
• Kristy Mazurek: She is a central figure in the investigation of political operative Steve Pigeon. She was treasurer of the WNY Progressive Caucus, the Pigeon-connected fund at the center of the probe. And she refuses – even while running for the Assembly’s 143rd District – to say anything about her role.
Erie County Democrats are backing law professor Monica Wallace and applying all of the organization’s power to her effort. But the Mazurek name remains well known in Cheektowaga, and nobody is counting her out.
• John Flynn: The endorsed Democrat for DA is waging a tough campaign and counts as a huge advantage the power of the Erie County Democratic Party. That means party workers manning phones over the weekend and even transporting voters to the polls.
The question remains whether Flynn can capitalize.
• Michael Flaherty: The acting district attorney needs a win in Tuesday’s Democratic primary to advance to November, and touts his record and new image he has given the office since taking over in January. He has money and all the advantages of incumbency – which he has employed effectively.
• Mark Sacha: Underdog in the three-way Democratic primary for DA, he nonetheless has become a household name. He has little money but perfect timing, arriving on the political scene just as the investigation he initiated produced the indictment of Pigeon and former State Supreme Court Justice John Michalek.
• Joe Treanor: Few voters around here ever heard of the Cheektowaga resident who rose to colonel and JAG officer in the Air Force. But he could prove a huge factor as he faces Democrat Flynn on Tuesday for the Conservative nomination for district attorney.
Treanor only recently signed up with the minor party. But he will show his membership card to the hard-core party members who vote in primaries, even if Conservative leaders endorsed Flynn.
Already ensconced on the Republican line for November, Treanor could advance his general election cause if he prevails over Flynn.
• Jeremy Zellner: The Erie County Democratic chairman backs Flynn for DA, Small for 60th Senate, and Wallace for 143rd Assembly. None is considered a done deal.
• Byron Brown: Even though the mayor/state Democratic chairman supports Zellner and his operation, Brown remains neutral in the torrid contest for DA.
• Frank O’Connor and Nelson Rockefeller: According to Thursday’s editions of this newspaper, the pair won the respective Democratic and Republican nominations for governor.
Wait, you say? That was the weekly Cellino & Barnes ad that replicates the front page of The Buffalo Evening News from 50 years ago?
Well, it was still a gripping story, and penned by former Politics Column author George Borrelli. He celebrated his 89th birthday a few days ago and still regularly passes on tips to the whippersnapper who succeeded him.