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New name in Democratic chairman contest -- Jeremy Zellner

   It appears the race to succeed Leonard R. Lenihan as chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party is only beginning, as more names enter the mix.

   One interesting new entry receiving attention on Wednesday is Jeremy J. Zellner, the chief of staff of the County Legislature and longtime Lenihan assistant in Democratic Headquarters. He is known to maintain close times with Lenihan as well as County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, who has indicated he expects to play a key role in helping select the new party chairman.

   Several critics question how Zellner could serve as chairman of the party while working in the Legislature at the same time, but Zellner proponents say it is too early to even consider such details. In fact, just about all those familiar with the developing contest say it is too early to arrive at any conclusions.
--Robert J. McCarthy

Jerry Zremski's Week in Washington, July 16, 2012


Five Questions with Mickey Kearns

Every Sunday, we'll publish a quick Q&A with someone from the local political world. Instead of touching on the latest in policy issues and proposed legislation, the intent is to catch a glimpse of the person behind the title. The interviews are done via email.

Mickey Kearns












Michael P. Kearns

The basics

Age: 43
Job title: New York State Assemblymember
Family: Erin Kearns (wife) and McKenna Kearns (daughter).
Education: Canisius College, Erie Community College
Party affiliation: Democratic
Salary: $79,500

Continue reading "Five Questions with Mickey Kearns " »

Cuomo remaining quiet on Senate partisan flip opportunities

ALBANY – While the Legislature was in session the first half of the year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo repeatedly said he did not want to answer "political" questions about whether he will support his party’s efforts to re-take the state Senate in the fall.

On Tuesday, with lawmakers gone from Albany and already busy campaigning back home, Cuomo declined to make the matter any clearer. "It’s a case-by-case, individual-by-individual determination," Cuomo said of any plans he might have to endorse or help raise money for senators.

"I could see myself endorsing any individual regardless of party label, depending on the positions, depending on the individual," said Cuomo, who is the head of the Democratic Party in New York.

While he has helped raise money for Assembly Democrats, who stand zero chance of losing their commanding majority in the 150-member house, Cuomo has made no such commitments – and declined again Tuesday – for Senate Democrats. "I want to see the best people in the state Senate that we can attract," Cuomo said.

Senate Republicans have been Cuomo’s most reliable ally in Albany the past two legislative sessions, and Republicans including Sen. Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, who changed his mind and ended up backing Cuomo’s same-sex marriage law last year, are openly hoping for a Cuomo endorsement.

Of course, Senate Democrats say Cuomo already made his preference quite clear earlier this year when he signed into law new GOP-drawn district lines for the Senate, including the addition of a new seat to what is now a 62-member chamber to help bolster Republican chances at keeping the Senate this fall.

-- Tom Precious

Dyson leaving NYPA post

ALBANY -- An expert in finances and economic development who has been heavily involved in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s "energy highway" plans is resigning from his post as vice chairman of the New York Power Authority.

John Dyson, a millionaire who heads an investment firm and owns a winery in Millbrook in Dutchess County, submitted his letter of resignation Monday to Cuomo, who appointed Dyson to the NYPA post only a year ago.

Dyson said with Cuomo’s new team now in place at NYPA -– including Buffalo banker John Koelmel as chairman –- it is now time for him to leave what has been a nearly full-time job in the non-paying post.

"It is time for me to return my attention to my private and business lives," Dyson wrote Cuomo. He said his last day on the job will be Aug. 5.

Dyson, who ran the Power Authority when Cuomo’s father, Mario, was governor, has been one of the point players in the current governor’s plans to improve the state’s aging power infrastructure. More than 80 ideas were recently submitted to NYPA by industry and other groups to add new generation capacity and update power lines that are increasingly faced with bottlenecks preventing upstate-produced power from reaching downstate.

Dyson’s involvement with top state government posts goes back to the days of Gov. Hugh Carey; he was Carey’s top economic development director and later became chairman of NYPA, a position he continued under Mario Cuomo. Dyson was also a top advisor to former New York City Mayor Rudolph and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in the Democratic primary in 1986.

NYPA’s assets in New York are vast, and include the Niagara Power Project.

--Tom Precious

Jerry Zremski's Week in Washington, July 9, 2012


Five Questions with Terry McCracken

Each week, we'll publish a quick Q&A with someone from the local political world. Instead of touching on the latest in policy issues and proposed legislation, the intent is to catch a glimpse of the person behind the title. The interviews are done via email.


Terry McCracken celebrates at Democratic headquarters at the Adam's Mark Hotel on election night November 2011. (Derek Gee/ Buffalo News)

Terry McCracken

The Basics:
Age: 51
Party: Democrat
Job Title: Erie County Legislator, 8th district
Family: Married to Kristin; children --   Patrick, Jill, Michael, Kim and our dog Hank
Town: Depew
Education: attended Canisius College
Salary: $42,500

Continue reading "Five Questions with Terry McCracken" »

Video: Will Hochul retain seat on GOP turf?

News Political Reporter Bob McCarthy tells Brian Meyer that Kathy Hochul has raised $500,000, a sign that she's ready for a spirited congressional contest against GOP challenger Chris Collins.

Republicans pounce on latest jobs numbers

   If you were Republican and running for office Friday, it was a day to weigh in on the less-than-stellar employment numbers announced by the U.S. Department of Labor. With only 80,000 jobs created in June -- the third straight month of weak hiring that seems to underscore a still struggling economy -- Republicans on several levels all had plenty to say.

   First up was Chris Collins, the fomer county executive now challenging incumbent Democrat Kathleen C. Hochul for the new 27th Congressional District. With unemployment continuing to hover at around 8.2 percent, Collins -- in his continued effort to link Hochul to President Obama -- said the policies espoused by the pair are not working. 

   "The policies of Obama-Hochul are failing miserably at creating an environment for hiring," Collins said. "Worse yet, the Obama-Hochul 'federal government knows best' approach is strangling job growth, investment and entrepreneurship. 

    "Hardworking New Yorkers who are currently unemployed or underemployed deserve better," he added.

   Wendy Long, who won last month's Republican primary for the right to challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand this November, dispatched her own press release mocking Gillibrand posing in a construction helmet by juxtaposing it with the now-infamous photo of 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis atop a tank in a military helmet.

   She said Gillibrand earlier this week said she was “excited” about new jobs, but claimed there is little cause for optimism in the actual employment report.
   “I am not ‘excited’ about today’s numbers," Long said. "New Yorkers are not finding jobs for three main reasons, all stemming from Kirsten Gillibrand's failed economic agenda.”

   She listed the reasons as taxes, government spending and over-regulation.

   "Sky-high taxes, ballooning debt, overspending, overregulation, no budget, no jobs bill, no jobs, and as a result no confidence," Long said.

   Democratic responses and press releases, however, were hard to find in the wake of Friday's employment numbers.

--Robert J. McCarthy



Democratic HQ closes in tribute to Rita Crangle

   Erie County Democratic Headquarters in Ellicott Square was closed Friday morning in tribute to Rita Crangle, the wife of formerChairman Joseph F. Crangle, who died Sunday.
   Leonard R. Lenihan, current chairman, said offices would be closed in observance of Mrs. Crangle's funeral at St. Mark Church in Buffalo and in tribute to her memory.
   “Rita was a very kind and loving person, who was the rock and foundation behind Joe Crangle’s 23-year tenure as chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee," Lenihan said. "In a job that has its ups and downs, Rita provided stability and reassurances to not only Joe but to everyone who was involved with the party.”

Robert J. McCarthy


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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri |

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski |