The local Republican Party is perhaps more fractious than ever. The aftermath of an intensive months long behind the scenes contest for the nomination for County Executive left warring factions bruised and demoralized. The contest was at times bitter, with County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and County Clerk Chris Jacobs each maneuvering for the nomination.
Mychajliw was elected with the help of Jacobs, who took him door to door to introduce him to voters. Longtime political observers say that etiquette in politics, if their is such a thing, demands that Mychajliw defer to a political mentor to whom he owes his first win.
But Mychajliw actively maneuvered against Jacobs, both trading jabs in political circles. To paraphrase the bickering, the Comptroller’s camp thinks Jacobs is exceedingly cautious, avoids confrontation, and largely rehired a patronage staff of Democrats who were rewarded with those jobs under former Clerk Kathy Hochul and Interim Clerk Joe Crangle — no small irritation to serious Republican operatives.
The Clerk’s camp calls Mychajliw exceedingly ambitious, inexperienced, untested, too quick to grab a podium, and in over his head, given the nature of the Comptroller’s responsibilities.
So when Mychajliw went ahead and planned a fundraiser to primary Jacobs, who had signaled that he would run, all bets were off. Mychajliw planned to raise $200,000 at that event. Mychajliw then conspired with Republican political operative Michael Caputo to “cut his balls off,” according to a source.
In response, Jacobs made a few phone calls that essentially “shut off the Republican spigot.” Jacobs’ social network solidly controls the traditional Republican donor base in the region. Of course, all is fair in politics. But in the end, Jacobs declined to run.
That has burned some operatives, who say that the next time Jacobs wants to run for something, he won’t have an entire party willing to clear the way and step aside, as Mychajliw — who found himself without an independent fundraising base — eventually did.
While some operatives argue that the impact to Jacobs’ credibility among rank and file activists has taken a serious and longstanding blow, most say that he will eventually regain lost credibility with the base.
Meanwhile, the party is currently — as far as we can tell — stuck with an abrasive little known Assemblyman as the party’s nominee. His right wing politics and hostile posture towards minorities and urban development make a countywide election utterly implausible.