The Western New York political world was buzzing at 4:00 today with the news that Erie County Legislator Ed Rath might be "mulling over" a run for Erie County Executive in 2015. Turns out, it's not true - and the Republican who quietly peddled the story knew better.
WBEN was the first to break the news on their website, claiming sources within the Republican Party told them Legislator Rath is assembling the operation necessary to take on Mark Poloncarz in two years. Talk show host David Bellavie seized the news and needled Rath on the air for the leak.
This story immediately caputres any political professional's attention because, if Rath was behind this, his timing is terrible. He is seeking another term in the legislature and Election Day is less than 3 weeks away. It would be politically irresponsible of him - if not downright stupid - to announce interest in higher office before he gets re-elected to the one he holds today.
In fact, Bellavia is wrong/: this site has learned that WBEN's source was New York State Senator Patrick Gallivan's Chief of Staff, A.J. Baynes .
Last night, Rath attended a fundraiser for Ted Morton, who is running for the Legislature in the 8th district. The entire Gallivan team was present, including the Senator. Baynes reportedly confronted Rath about his interest in running for the seat his grandfather once held. Rath, always the consumate politician, reportedly reminded Baynes that he was only interested in getting re-elected to the Legislature and working on the 2014 budget. Skeptical of his answer, Baynes allegedly informed Rath that Senator Gallivan was interested in the office, saying it would be a "crowded field" if Rath decided to enter.
Rath and Baynes have a storied history of disagreement. They were once great friends and political allies; today they barely speak. Gallivan's interest in the County Executive seat is no surprise to area Republicans, and his Chief of Staff is clearly doing what is necessary to clear the field for him early on. That's how the game is played.
The leak was a shrewd political move by the Gallivan team and, as of right now, they appear to be getting away with it.