It must be tough these days for Stefan Mychajliw.
The Erie County comptroller and 27th Congressional District candidate can only watch from the sidelines as Republican Chris Jacobs and Democrat Nate McMurray square off for the April 28 special election. Following the tumult of former Rep. Chris Collins’ resignation and nomination of successor candidates, the spotlight – for now – shines on the April 28 special. Mychajliw and former Darien Town Justice Beth Parlato must wait for their moments in the June 23 GOP primary.
Still, Mychajliw saw an opening last week, jumping from the sidelines to “accept” McMurray’s challenge to debate – even if the Democrat had Jacobs in mind. And it all included his usual “moderate Republican” and “anti-Trumper” barbs for Jacobs.
But can the comptroller play in this league? Jacobs reported $788,000 on hand in his latest campaign finance report, while Parlato has about $334,000. Mychajliw says he has subsequently deposited $30,000 in his new congressional account and repeats his “we’ll be well-funded” mantra.
“The real race is the primary,” he told the Politics Column a few days ago. “I feel very confident I will have enough resources to compete and win. We’ll have it. I always have.”
Mychajliw’s confidence may be rooted in a powerful Washington political committee called Club for Growth. It now promises a “seven-figure” campaign against Jacobs in the primary.
Club for Growth tells The Buffalo News that it likes both Mychajliw and Parlato, and could support either. One point remains clear – the committee does not like Jacobs, will aim its ads against him and negate the money he and his donors have already contributed.
Mychajliw, with little money in his own account, must now wait for CFG. The bet here is that Parlato is aggressively making her case, too. It all amounts to a make-or-break deal for the comptroller.
He still says the Jan. 25 conclave that barely nominated Jacobs over former candidate Rob Ortt was “compromised,” making no friends among the GOP powers that be. He continues burning bridges with state Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy, whose wife has served as a Jacobs fundraiser. Though the chairman said he merely facilitated the nomination meeting and was not involved, Mychajliw (like Ortt) viewed Langworthy’s presence in the room and his wife’s campaign connection as a conflict.
“I don’t give a damn what the party bosses think of me,” Mychajliw said. “The process was compromised and the fix was in.”
So now Mychajliw goes his own way. He rejects the party insiders, relishing the role he has carved out for himself. But his new best friends at Club for Growth may determine his fate.
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• Republican Joel Giambra – who was in, then out, then maybe back in – for a shot at the Assembly seat being vacated as Sean Ryan runs for the state Senate, has decided against a return to politics for now. The former county executive was all but announced before discovering a serious kidney situation that will eventually require a transplant. A source close to him says the goal now is a new kidney – another shot at running for office will have to wait.
• About 160 of his closest friends gathered in Olean last weekend to honor Jim Snyder on his retirement from a long career in public life. Starting as a member of the Olean Common Council in 1962, he was a charter member of the Cattaraugus County Legislature in 1970, and became the face of county government after 13 years as chairman.
He also served as president of the National Association of Counties, and as special White House assistant to President George H.W. Bush.
In a refreshing display of bipartisanship, Repubs and Dems alike (including a video tribute from former Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan) paid tribute to “Big Jim.”
And if you wander into the next Catt County Legislature meeting, you’ll notice the new sign outside reading: “James J. Snyder Sr. Legislative Chambers.