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Politics Column: Political fellowship and pain

News, notes and observations on politics around here:

• Last week’s Politics Column detailed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s scheduled appearance at Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner’s fundraiser on Thursday. That’s significant, because the governor attends official Erie County Democratic gatherings about as often as rallies for Donald Trump.

But Cuomo may not generate the real news from Zellner’s big affair. That night, Democrats will honor one of their most revered members – former Deputy Assembly Speaker Arthur O. Eve. And the award will be presented by a New York GOP stalwart – former State Sen. Dale Volker of Depew.
Volker says he’s honored to do it, and in his typical fashion, doesn’t care what anybody else thinks. And it’s a sure bet he has never set foot in a Democratic fundraiser in his life.

The senator’s participation harkens to the days of far less partisanship in Albany, when city Democrats like Eve worked with suburban Republicans like Volker for the region’s benefit. And many will argue that during their heyday, the pair led the state’s most effective regional delegation.

• How would you like to be attorney Steve Weiss reading last Sunday’s edition of The Buffalo News? The story about the big fundraiser he threw for Cuomo back on Dec. 20?

Weiss offered his stunning Avant penthouse for the affair, invited dozens of contributors, dropped $3,509 on expenses and raised about $125,000 for the governor. Then he read that Cuomo could not recall the affair. Ouch.

• On the flip side, how would you like to be Mayor Byron Brown reading The News last Sunday? The state Democratic chairman saw details of the fundraiser right here in his town that netted hefty donations for Cuomo from an Ohio company suing the city. Weiss even said in a legal affidavit that Brown was angry about white developers getting all the work on Buffalo’s East Side. Ouch again.

• Still on Cuomo, it was interesting to note three op-ed submissions to The News last week by area legislators and his economic development chief. They reiterated their support for the next Buffalo Billion phase after the governor questioned the commitment of local legislators – coincidentally, of course.

• Over to the GOP, potential gubernatorial candidate Harry Wilson was slated to dine with area Republican chairmen Friday during a western swing, followed by Saturday morning’s roundtable session with Erie County Chairman Nick Langworthy. The 2010 unsuccessful candidate for comptroller, Wilson is increasing his statewide travel in possible preparation for 2018.

Langworthy has snared another big name – Fox News host Jeanine Pirro – for his March 9 fundraiser. The Elmira native and University at Buffalo graduate unsuccessfully ran for attorney general against Cuomo back in 2006.

• Time magazine’s cover this week features a close-up portrait of Sen. Chuck Schumer, complete with familiar reading glasses halfway down his nose. It’s fitting. In the last few weeks, the nation’s top elected Democrat has emerged as the party’s most vocal opponent of the new resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

• Quote of the Week comes from J.B. Walsh, the noted Buffalo attorney and lobbyist who died on Feb. 5, just short of his 90th birthday. For years, Walsh proved a familiar figure in political gatherings around Buffalo, Albany and New York City. So The News naturally turned to him in 1998 for a feature on political gathering places – the restaurants and watering holes where the real business of government and politics gets done.

“Politicians, or people devoted to political life, are generally people persons,” Walsh said then, adding that anyone who’s any good at it can’t help but socialize and talk about it.

“You always hear people talk about ‘politicians,’ and words like that can sometimes take on a bad meaning,” he said. “But there really is a need for people in the business to communicate; for the humanization of it. And I take my hat off to everybody who can do it.”

Nobody did that better than J.B. Walsh, and we tip our hat, too.

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