Share this article

print logo

Political leftovers from two amazing weeks

Wrapping up odds and ends from the most intense two weeks of presidential politics in New York history:

• Back when Congressman Chris Collins was a mere Jeb Bush supporter, life was simple. He represented his district, pursued his goals and returned home on weekends.

Then Bush faded. (Did he ever shine?) Collins signed on with Donald Trump on Feb. 24. Since then, he has appeared on national television more than 40 times. Life is now different for the Clarence Republican.

The New York primary thrust him even further into the spotlight, and he remains Trump’s most visible and vocal congressional supporter. Watch for him to continue – and maybe expand – his role.

• Meanwhile, Rep. Peter King – the Long Island Republican who is Homeland Security chairman and appears on national cable even more than Collins – will highlight a local Collins donor event on Monday.

• As the Trump precursor in the 2010 election for governor, Carl Paladino demonstrated the appetite for a “mad as hell” type of politics that the primary exposed is alive and well in New York Republican circles. He, too, will have a role in the campaign, as may East Aurora political consultant Michael Caputo and East Aurora Assemblyman David DiPietro.

• Chalk one up for state GOP Chairman Ed Cox. He went out on a lonely limb last fall by insisting that the New York primary – usually occurring too late on the political calendar to make a difference – would matter. It did matter. Big time.

Cox also insisted on remaining neutral. On Thursday, he followed the direction of his voters and enthusiastically endorsed Trump. Even Paladino, who never hesitates to whack away at Cox, seemed pleased.

“I look forward to working with Ed in the weeks ahead to assure our state’s delegation stands equally as strong for Donald Trump as our voters did on Tuesday,” Paladino said.

• Commentators on the national level were shocked – shocked, we tell you – to learn that New York maintains a closed primary in which Dems vote for Dems and Repubs vote for Repubs. They were equally thunderstruck that voters were required to choose a party by an October deadline.

Blame it on New York’s “fusion” politics that allows major party candidates to run on minor party lines.

Republican Legislator Kevin Hardwick, a Canisius College political science professor, explains it best. The rules protect the minor parties from “party raiding.”

“Say someone wanted to run on the Green Party line,” he said. “They don’t have a lot of members. But if I was a Republican who wanted that line, I could get 1,000 Republicans to switch registration for a day. It hurts the whole idea of minor parties.”

And in New York, one of the few states allowing fusion voting, minor parties remain very much ingrained in the system. Despite the howls of protest, don’t look for those rules to change soon.

• Back in 1999, in the days just following Bill Clinton’s impeachment, the president and Hillary Clinton joined Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, at a rally in then-Marine Midland Arena. Organizers knew a Democratic town when they saw one, and picked Buffalo to show the wounded president still had juice.

Even then, a grizzled political reporter told some of his young colleagues to watch closely because they would never see anything like it again. The crusty scribe was right. Trump came nowhere near filling the same space last week. The Clintons and Gores keep their record.

• Onetime Buffalonian Harvey Weinstein, now a major entertainment producer, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday one way to draw a Bernie Sanders-size crowd.

He recalled working “as a kid” with the late Tim Russert, who related the crowd strategy of former Erie County Democratic Chairman Joe Crangle and the late Mayor Frank Sedita Sr.

“The way to get a crowd is to throw a bomb into the middle of the street,” he joked, “and then 10,000 would rush out and say, ‘Oh my God, it’s a bomb.’ Then Sedita would get up on a soapbox and say, ‘I’m Frank Sedita, vote for me for mayor.’ ”