The Buffalo Chronicle received an anonymous email this morning detailing a Sunday meeting between Republican political operative Michael Caputo (who mismanaged Carl Paladino’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign with much fanfare) and Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, whose short tenure has stirred much humor among political insiders.
The email was from an address that is unfamilar to The Chronicle. The email begins:
I was dining at the Elm Street Bakery on Sunday when these four men sat down at the table next to mine. I know who two of them are: Controller Stephan Myhailiw and political consultant Mike Caputo. They were talking in low tones, but I was able to catch a lot of it. Caputo led the meeting, referring to a document which he gave copies to them, while Myhailiw and the other two asked questions and took notes. He talked about how to beat Clerk Jacobs in the primary and how to take on Poloncarz in the general election.
The source implies that Caputo is instigating the GOP infighting:
I couldn’t hear all of it but Caputo was talking about being aggressive “cutting his balls off” and “running him into the ground” and “it doesn’t matter how much money he has.” It was hard to tell which candidate he was talking about when he said these things, but I did hear him say that Jacobs can’t win “because he won’t throw a punch.” Also he said “Poloncarz is a lot more vulnerable than people think.” Which is bullshit.
County Clerk Chris Jacobs, a favorite son of the local business community, has been considering a run for County Executive. Caputo’s willingness to attack Jacobs, who is broadly popular and deeply likable among Erie County voters who see him as a friendly and well known face, seems to raise questions about Caputo’s own judgement.
If there is one thing that County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw is known for, it’s his ambition. But few Republicans thought that his ambition would cause him to embrace such cut throat and divisive tactics — especially at a time when the party has been lauded for its collegiality and unity, particularly in identifying a nominee for County Executive.
Jacobs is widely recognized as the party’s strongest contender, given his impressive performance in two countywide elections — even garnering more votes than Poloncarz in traditionally Democrat strongholds of Tonawanda and Amherst. The party — including Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy — are strong backers of Jacobs, and are lobbying him heavily to run.
The source writes via email:
At one point The Controller asked Caputo how much it would cost to hire him and Caputo leaned in to speak very quietly. When he was done saying whatever he said, Myhailiw reached across the table and shook his hand. I left soon after and turned around to take this photograph from the stairs.
Caputo is a sleazeball and disrupts our politics here in Aurora with the same nasty tactics. We can’t let these guys attack our County Executive. He’s not been a huge friend to unions but he is far far better than a return to Collinsland. Please expose this.
That Mychajliw would plot so overtly to undermine the party organization that got him elected has offended more than a few operatives. He and Jacobs campaigned for reelection together and Jacobs played a pivotal role in getting Mychajliw elected. They even went canvassing door to door together.
Mychajliw is the weakest, most scandal prone contender
The Poloncarz Administration has been ridiculed in recent weeks for its central argument for reelection: that Mark Poloncarz is scandal free.
Operatives say that the patronage issues inside the Child Welfare unit will badly tarnish Poloncarz’s management credentials. He stuffed the department with patronage hires and understaffed legitimate caseworkers. Several children under the supervision of the unit subsequently died.
So, to accept the Poloncarz Administration’s “scandal free” premise is flawed. But Mychajliw is perhaps the only Republican contender whose own scandalous behavior could make Poloncarz look good by comparison.
Mychajliw has been unable to escape local gossip related to his high profile affair with WGRZ’s lead female anchor, Mary Alice Demler — an icon in local journalism, with obvious sex appeal. The affair led to Mychajliw’s divorce, and urban legend has it that his scorned wife distributed fliers at WGRZ studios to make the affair public in an effort to shame the two. WGRZ ended up terminating Mychajliw.
He then ran for public office on a “hard working single dad” narrative that emphasized his Eastside upbringing and working class roots.
Now, he is engaged to Ashley Kowalyk, a 25 year old young woman. He was thought to be uninterested in a run for higher office this year because of the, presumably passionate, relationship. Many operatives speculate that his libido could considerably hurt his likability among female voters, which could undermine the Republican effort and guarantee a Poloncarz win.
The Poloncarz camp is hoping that Mychajliw will be the eventual nominee because he is seen as the weakest and most untested contender. They think he could be easily scandalized — not only for his personal behavior, but for the way he conducts himself in office.
The Administration has long seen him as a thorn in their side, who has been quick to issue press releases and stage press conferences that constantly attack the County Executive. A Poloncarz-Mychajliw matchup would be a brutal general election battle and the mudslinging would be non-stop.
Some of Poloncarz’s most unseemly operatives are already salivating for political payback and would bask in the opportunity to turn the public discourse to Mychajliw’s qualifications (or lack thereof).