News, notes and observations:
• Erie County County Executive candidate Lynne Dixon drew more than 300 people to her fundraiser at Lucarelli’s in Lackawanna a few days ago, and the big crowd now bestows the title of “serious contender” in her campaign against Mark Poloncarz, the Democratic incumbent.
Observers have noted that the campaign kitty of Dixon, an Independence county legislator running with GOP backing, will need to reflect at least six figures when her first finance reports are due on Friday.
“Her first filing is going to impress a lot of people,” said one campaign insider, noting it will surpass the $100,000 base needed to get started. “Hopefully, it will encourage others to open up their pockets.”
Even that amount keeps her in underdog status, especially compared to the $445,000 that Poloncarz boasts as his starting point – with more to come. But it means that Dixon will be on TV, employ a staff, and make the case to other donors. Indeed, the campaign source said the candidate has tirelessly worked the phones since the day after the Lucarelli’s affair.
• In a related matter, give “credit” to the Democratic strategists who plotted an Independence primary for Dixon, obligating a campaign finance report and early glimpse into her financial strength. Poloncarz, meanwhile, can lollygag until July 15 – giving him two more months to wield his incumbency powers for his treasury.
Grace Christiansen’s Independence challenge to Dixon is widely viewed as orchestrated by Democrats to create as much chaos as possible, including the obligation for an early campaign finance filing. It all ranks as another feature of New York’s “unique” election laws.
• Dixon, meanwhile, hinted at the kind of issues she will raise once her effort to topple Poloncarz gets fully underway. Last week’s press release indicating she will start an on-line petition drive opposing new efforts to grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants shows she will indeed paint the ruling Democrats as too liberal for Erie County.
“[Gov. Andrew] Cuomo and his New York City politicians are attempting to score political points by giving over 265,000 illegal immigrants a driver’s license,” she said. “Voters across New York, especially in Erie County, are opposed to granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and I wish we had a county executive who stood up for the values of our county and against those of Andrew Cuomo and downstate politicians.”
Republicans have embraced the same anti-NYC theme with little success over the years. But Dixon and her Republican backers believe they are on to something.
• County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw seems to enjoy his regular jabs at Poloncarz, stepping up his game last week with more criticism of the county executive’s forthcoming book on negotiating a lease renewal for the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. A year ago, before an indictment created question marks surrounding Rep. Chris Collins’ future, Mychajliw was emerging as the 2019 GOP candidate against Poloncarz.
Now the comptroller is eyeing an eventual run for Congress, but never lets up on Poloncarz.
• Speaking of congressional candidates, Democrat Tracy Mitrano of Penn Yan continues seeking a rematch against Republican Rep. Tom Reed of Corning – despite the incumbent’s healthy victory in 2018. She may be well on her way after gaining early nods from Dems in Yates, Schuyler and Chautauqua counties, and last week from Steuben County, too.
Chairman Shawn Hogan said Mitrano is “right on the issues and right with the people she hopes to represent.”
• One by-product of the recent endorsement process by local Democrats remains a bunch of disgruntled political hopefuls. Many first-time candidates sought city and county office this spring, and some committed their share of rookie mistakes.
But one last window remains open – filing for independent candidacies.
It will now prove interesting to see who may file for independent lines by the May 28 deadline – even if they start as long shots.