Somebody Call the Fat Lady Hogues Fizzles Out, Dems Reach for Kleenex By Michael R. Caputo

It doesn't happen every day, but the Buffalo News' Politics Now blog posted a story by Bob McCarthy that lit local pols on fire. According to inside sources, his brief post - "Miller-Williams pads slim lead in County Legislature" - stuck like a dagger in the heart of the legislature's majority staff.

According to McCarthy's short missive:

Board of Elections officials said today that Miller-Williams, the former Legislature chairwoman who emerged on Primary Night with a 20-vote lead over Hogues, has recorded 212 absentee ballots in her favor compared to 169 for Hogues.

"Democratic staffers are actually in tears, I kid you not, over the Hogues loss," one close observer told me. One staffer with ties to legislature majority chief Jeremy Zellner - who also serves as Erie County Democratic Chair - told colleagues they were more than likely all losing their jobs. 

The scene in the legislature was described as a funeral, with Dem staffers huddled at the front desk. One person told me it "looked like Zellner got kicked in the balls."

Now the sharks are out in the water over who will work on the Democrat legislative staff - especially if they drop into the minority. Let's do the math about who will be on both sides of the aisle in November, discounting any upsets, and who gets to pick staff.


Kevin Hardwick (R)

John Mills (R)

Joe Lorigo (C)

Lynne Dixon (I)

Ed Rath (R)

Ted Morton (R) - if he beats Wynnie Fisher

Barbara Miller-Williams (D) - will be anti-Zellner and work with majority 



Tom Loughran (D) no close alliances

Pat Burke (D) not predictable

Betty Jean Grant (D) - backs Zellner

Lynn Marinelli (D) - backs Zellner

There is an "honor of the house" in the county legislature where the majority does not meddle in minority caucus staffing decisions. So what happens to Zellner's chief of staff job? Under the above scenario, there's no "majority" of the "minority" anymore.  He may not even have the support of his own caucus to save his job.

If Zellner wants to remain, he must declare an all out war and defend key legislative seats fervently in the general election, just a few weeks away. At the bare minimum, he must pick up a Wynnie Fisher win over Ted Morton. That won't save him the majority of the Legislature, but it would save his job. That would mean there are three Zellner Dems in the minority (Fisher, BJG, and Marinelli) compared to two wild cards in Loughran and Burke.

Keep in mind Loughran staffer Bill Pauly is tight with Steve Pigeon and Burke is tied with Greg Olma. Nobody in County Hall thinks either will sail to Zellner's rescue in any case.

This is a nightmare scenario, and likely why tears were shed yesterday when Bob McCarthy broke the news. My advice: Dem staffers should freshen up their resumes and stock up on tissues because for them this will not likely end well.

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