Twenty-eight days until Election Day. Campaign financial reports have been released. The Walton campaign again fails to disclose the sources of tens of thousands of dollars in contributions.
What’s happening in the elections for county comptroller, sheriff, Hamburg supervisor? Here are some facts, observations and heard-on-the-streets:
The campaign financial reports show a wide gap between Byron Brown and India Walton both for money raised and money spent. In the period from July 11 through September 27th Brown raised $831,280 and spent $555,559, which included $121,000 in recent TV ads. Walton collected $442,531 and paid out $229,498.
Once again the Walton campaign is failing to disclose many donors’ names, this time to the tune of $142,571. Combined with previous reports the total of unclassified contributions to Walton this year, where the names of donors are not disclosed, amounts to $253,209.
They are deferring to a legal technicality that contributions of under $100 need not be identified. The campaign does, however, itemize scores of donations of less than $100.
Most campaigns will report a tiny amount of unclassified contributions. Brown, out of $831,280 raised, listed only $100 that does not identify the donor. The amount of contributions being hidden by Walton is well beyond anything that anyone has ever seen in Western New York.
Do the math. There would need to be at least 1,440 contributions of $99 or less to cover that hidden $142,571. Why would 1,440 contributors to Walton wanted their donations hidden?
So we are left to speculate: are some very rich donors trying to influence the election in Buffalo? The Walton campaign can clear this up by fully disclosing their contributors. Failure to do so destroys their credibility. Absent that transparency the state Board of Elections should investigate why the committee is failing to disclose the sources of more than a quarter million dollars in contributions.
As of September 27th Brown’s treasury had $464,157; Walton had $360,182 available. The next reports are due on October 22nd.
Brown’s money came largely from businesses and developers. Walton raised a large amount of her funds from outside of Western New York.
Write-in candidate for mayor Ben Carlisle raised $2,225 and spent $2,486. There is no campaign financial report on record for Jaz Miles.
The mid-September poll from a Kansas City firm, co/efficient, showed Brown with a 31 percent lead over Walton. Candidate favorable/unfavorable ratings track those horse race numbers closely, with Brown’s favorables outweighing his unfavorables by 33 percent while Walton’s ratings were negative by 20 percent. The poll was conducted seven weeks out from the election and questions can be raised about the demographic mix used or political leanings of the polling firm, but the margin in Brown’s favor is too large to be ignored. BTW Stefan Mychajliw paid co/efficient $10,000 for some recent polling.
Brown’s TV ad suggesting that there will be Police Department layoffs under a Walton administration (denied by Walton) ran for a couple weeks unchallenged by Walton paid media. The ad has had an impact, allowing Brown to define her on an important issue. Her first TV spots, which started on September 30th, are hard hitting against Brown while also trying to be biographical.
Walton once again declined a TV debate. Noting that Brown had done the same thing during the primary campaign is a fair observation, but when after nine months you are still a relatively unknown challenger who is proposing major changes in the way the city operates it would seem to be helpful to accept any forum that gives you an opportunity to discuss how you plan to run city government.
A totally unscientific view of things from the signs-don’t-vote perspective: there are many more Brown signs on display throughout the city than there are Walton signs. It appears to be the case from the south side to the north side, from the west side to the east side. It is most noticeable in South Buffalo, where Brown signs seem to be everywhere.
The mayoral general election, an unusual fall event in Buffalo, will have some impact on countywide races because of the expected higher than usual turnout in Buffalo. There are 83,000 Democrats who weren’t heard from in the primary election plus about 50,000 Republican, Working Families and Conservative parties’ member and unaffiliated voters. Both Walton and Brown will have a shot at attracting more Democrats plus the unaffiliated. To the extent that they come out to vote Republicans and Conservatives will probably favor Brown by a large margin. Extra Democratic voters will help the party’s candidates for sheriff and comptroller while Republicans coming out to vote for mayor are more likely to support John Garcia for sheriff and Lynne Dixon for comptroller.
The sheriff’s race is as muddled as it has been all year. There is continued animosity between Republicans who supported Karen Healy-Case and those who supported Garcia in the primary. Healy-Case is not cooperating with the Garcia camp. She won’t attract a large number of votes on the Conservative line but whatever number she receives would probably otherwise go to Garcia. DiNoto is working to draw support from folks who do not want a major party candidate in the sheriff’s office. A DiNoto supporter points out that all sheriff candidates coming from the Buffalo Police Department (Garcia, Healy-Case and Beaty are former Buffalo officers) have failed over the past 30 years. DiNoto is an Amherst police officer.
From the campaign financials, Garcia has raised an additional $249,107 and has $190,868 in his campaign account. Beaty collected $90,111 and has $50,540 remaining at the moment. DiNoto raised $44,739 and has $50,400 in his treasury. Healy-Case has $3,610 left in her campaign account.
The race for county comptroller has been very quiet. This observer has seen no serious discussion about how best to run the office. Democrat Kevin Hardwick has raised $41,088 in the past two and half months and has $72,391 to spend. Republican Lynne Dixon collected $39,911 and had $80,193 remaining as on September 27th.
In Hamburg there is a spirited race for supervisor going on between Democrat Randy Hoak and Trumplican Stefan Mychajliw. Hoak has strong support from his town committee. Mychajliw continues to spend a good deal of his time tweeting about such things as his protests against requiring students to wear masks in schools, despite rising infection rates. He sends out some of his political statements on Comptroller Office letterhead.
Mychajliw once again filed his financial report as a candidate for comptroller rather than supervisor. Mychajliw has $19,408 in his treasury while Hoak has $28,771.
Interesting observation: Lynne Dixon has worked for Mychajliw for about two years as one of his deputies, making over $90,000 per year. She lives in Hamburg. There is no Mychajliw sign on Dixon’s lawn; for that matter there are no signs for any other town or countywide candidates.
Mychajliw’s home in Hamburg currently has three campaign lawn signs: one for himself plus signs for candidates for highway superintendent and the town board. No signs for Dixon or Garcia.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was in Buffalo for a fundraiser last week. It probably netted him $100,000+. The strange thing is there were no media interviews of DeSantis that I am aware of. Were the Republicans nervous about having him explain his backward COVID policies to a community that has demonstrated its commitment to mask-wearing and vaccinations to protect public health?
Ken Kruly writes about politics and other stuff at politicsandstuff.com. You can visit his site to leave a comment pertaining to this post.
Follow Ken on Twitter @kenkruly