Dave DiPietro feels he is better off without politics. I can hardly blame him.
DiPietro, dark-haired and plain-spoken, made the mistake of taking on Albany institution Dale Volker in the recent Republican primary for State Senate.
The former East Aurora mayor knew it would be an uphill run. Forcing fellow Republican Volker to spend time and money on a primary in a year when Republicans cling to a one-seat majority in the State Senate angered Republican Party bosses all the way to Albany.
Still, DiPietro did not expect the threats and abuse he said he and his supporters got from Volker's people.
"I got the crap kicked out of me," said DiPietro, 48.
DiPietro lost the September primary to Volker, 68, who now faces Democrat Kathy Konst. But DiPietro wants people to know how slimy politics can get. He hoped that the law would come down on the people behind the threats.
According to DiPietro:
*Republican Party boss Jim Domagalski warned DiPietro that Volker's people would "come after him."
"I told [Domagalski] I'm a big boy, I can take it," said DiPietro. "I had no idea how nasty it would get."
*Dave Gunner, a political novice running for Aurora highway superintendent, said Republicans pulled their endorsement of him after he ignored warnings about supporting DiPietro.
"Harry Wahl [Volker's chief of staff] told me, 'You don't mess with Dale Volker, and you don't mess with the state [Republican] Party," Gunner confirmed. "He told my wife, 'If you want to help DiPietro, get him some moving boxes, because he will lose his house, his business and his marriage.' "
*DiPietro's wife got e-mails about women he dated before they married.
"It was not anything I cared about," Theresa DiPietro said. "But they were obviously trying to upset me."
*Wahl told village Trustee Kevin Biggs that they would get government agencies to go after DiPietro.
Said Biggs, a Buffalo police detective: "Wahl told me, 'We'll have [DiPietro] out of his house, out of his business and his wife will be leaving him. If you don't believe me, ask Lenny Roberto.' "
Roberto is head of Primary Challenge, which backs challengers trying to unseat incumbents. Roberto said that, after taking on a Republican for Assembly in the mid-'90s, his business was targeted by various government agencies, including the state taxation department.
"They tried to put me out of business, and I have no doubt that it was politically motivated," said Roberto. "If Wahl said those things, it was no idle threat."
Wahl denied making threats.
"It's all revisionist history," said Wahl, a longtime political operative. "It's sour grapes and political maneuvering. The whole thing is preposterous. I never had those conversations."
*A taped call to voters from an unidentified female on Primary Day said "David DiPietro is abusive." The reference was to a June 1 incident, when DiPietro cussed at a female Volker supporter who "coincidentally" came to Village Hall minutes before his term expired.
"I'm not proud of it," said DiPietro. "But I was set up."
Konst has complained about the same sort of bare-knuckle tactics -- including serving subpoenas on her petition-signers -- in her current race against Volker.
DiPietro, Gunner and others filed complaints with District Attorney Frank Clark, who did not bring charges.
DiPietro has no reason to lie. about any of this. He lost the election, is out of public office and may never run again.
His story is another example of why smart, community-minded people would sooner jump into a flaming pit than get involved in politics.