If Mom is into politics, here are a few items to discuss with her today:
• Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy’s emails arrive at the Politics Column’s in-basket almost daily to announce new support for ousting veteran Ed Cox as leader of the state GOP.
Langworthy counts about half of New York’s 62 counties backing his effort, including many upstate and large organizations like Erie and Onondaga. Cox counters with major weighted votes in the metropolitan suburbs of Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester plus many more.
But the most influential upstate county to weigh in remains Monroe, where Chairman Bill Reilich has yet to tip his hand (and is not returning phone calls). A former assemblyman who is now Greece supervisor, Reilich and his committee could provide a dose of major momentum for either Langworthy or Cox when he finally makes his decision.
• Reilich was eager to share his feelings last week, however, over the appointment of a new U.S. marshal for Western New York. When Rep. Chris Collin’s long stalled recommendation of Erie County’s Peter Vito for the post was finally approved by President Trump, Reilich was among those upset over breaking with longstanding tradition – Buffalo gets the U.S. attorney appointment and Rochester the U.S. marshal.
“I think it would keep a more peaceful atmosphere if that longstanding tradition was continued,” he said in a most diplomatic statement. Others have been much more vocal in their opposition.
It all proved an important political point: Despite the legal problems dogging Collins, his relationship with Trump remains strong. Collins still has juice with the White House.
• Speaking of Trump, plans are under way for his 2020 re-election effort in New York. Bluest of blue New York is not expected to support native son Trump, but the state’s real contribution will be money more than votes.
Enter Tony Gioia, the retired Buffalo businessman, former ambassador to Malta and experienced political fund-raiser. The Trump campaign has asked him to lead its upstate fund raising.
Gioia traveled to Washington last week for a meeting of the campaign’s finance group, and the bet here is that the postponed fund raiser featuring Vice President Pence will still make the local schedule.
Langworthy and his wife – Erin Baker – traveled with Gioia to the D.C. meeting and are expected to play a major role in the upstate effort.
• Back on the home front, it is interesting to observe the recent formation of a new world order in City Hall that can only please Mayor Byron Brown.
The mayor loudly complained before the editorial board of The Buffalo News back in November about then-Comptroller Mark Schroeder, his erstwhile primary opponent and recent critic on everything from emergency demolitions to an annual picnic for senior citizens.
“He is operating out of spite and vindictiveness,” Brown said then. “The election is over. The voters chose me.”
But things have a way of working out for the mayor. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whom Brown served at the time as state Democratic chairman, suddenly and unexpectedly offered Schroeder the post of motor vehicles commissioner.
Then the Brown-friendly Common Council appointed another ally – Legislator Barbara Miller-Williams – as interim comptroller following Schroeder’s departure.
The Democratic Party followed by endorsing Miller-Williams, potential opponent Vanessa Glushefski failed to make the ballot, and Miller-Williams is assured of election in November.
The new comptroller bristles at any notion that the whole process aimed to rid City Hall of a mayoral nemesis.
“If anyone looks at my work in government, I have always been independent,” she says. “I make my own decisions.”
Still, Schroeder is gone and an old Grassroots ally serves as comptroller. It’s good to be Byron Brown.