Share this article

print logo

Poloncarz puts Lenihan on notice

Even though county executive candidate Mark Poloncarz and Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan have always considered themselves official friends and allies, politics often complicates relationships. This one appears as no exception.

A knowledgeable source relates that Poloncarz has told Lenihan he wants him to leave the chairmanship should he win election in November.

"Poloncarz has made it as clear as he can make it that he wants Lenihan gone for sure if he wins," the source said.

Poloncarz spokesman Peter Anderson denies that Lenihan has been asked to leave.

Nevertheless, Poloncarz has now snared the endorsement of the most popular pol in New York State -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose father -- former Gov. Mario Cuomo -- once famously declared former Erie County Democratic Chairman Joe Crangle a "non-person." Now Lenihan appears to have achieved the same status at the Executive Mansion.

But here's the twist -- if Poloncarz upsets a well-heeled incumbent like Republican Chris Collins, Lenihan would deserve official kudos. The reward appears to be exile from a party now firmly ruled by the new governor.

* Lenihan, meanwhile, has never counted Mayor Byron Brown or his Grassroots political organization as official amigos. So it was surprising that Grassroots founder Maurice Garner said in June that his club would work hard for the Lenihan-backed Poloncarz this election season -- part of the "grand deal" that Charlie King, executive director of the state Democratic Party, was crafting at the time.

But key elements of that deal -- including Lenihan's resignation -- never materialized. Now, neither has Grassroots help for Poloncarz.

Garner last week said the chairman's refusal to back Legislature Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams for re-election nixed the arrangement. Given the chairwoman's coziness with Collins in recent months, however, Headquarters' refusal to back Miller-Williams was no surprise.

* Official campaign finance reports are not due again until Oct. 28, but sources inside the Poloncarz camp say the pace has quickened substantially for the Democrat after two recent debates and a Siena College poll showed him competitive with Collins. It appears Poloncarz will miss his springtime boast that he could raise $1.2 million, but he did pick up more than $60,000 last week at a fundraiser in his Lackawanna home turf.

* The special Assembly election pitting Democrat Craig Bucki against Republican Ray Walter is close enough that Albany campaign committees from both sides are now involved. That means money and mailings, say sources from both sides, for the only Assembly election in the state this November.

* Few are watching the upcoming reapportionment process with keener interest than Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti of Buffalo. That's why Majority Leader Dean Skelos was in town a few days ago to meet with political honchoes like Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo.

The idea is to preserve the GOP Senate, and part of that process means carving out an all-Erie County district for Grisanti. While Lorigo is keeping open the door to Conservative backing for Grisanti, state Chairman Mike Long of Brooklyn promises a veto should a two-county district (and Long's final say) continue. It all stems from Grisanti's June vote for same-sex marriage -- a mortal sin in the eyes of Long.

Still, it appears Lorigo will require extraordinary penance from Grisanti before granting absolution.

"If he's going to come back to us, we want to see the senator assume and then champion a Conservative issue," Lorigo said last week. "Anything is possible."