The New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), a statewide union group, and Niagara County Democrats are hoping to empower the liberal wing of the Democratic Party in the state senate this year by targeting contestable Republican districts with strong pro-teacher candidates.
The ‘de Blasio wing’ of the Democratic Party wants to wrestle control of the chamber away from the Governor, who has cobbled together a Republican governing coalition joined by the ‘independent Democrat’ caucus. The Governor and de Blasio are intensely competitive party compatriots whose relationship is complicated by both men’s presidential ambitions.
If the Democrats are to take the Senate, then winning the 62nd district is a must. After the 2011 redistricting, former State Senator George Maziarz redrew the district into the City of Niagara Falls, adding thousands of Democrats to the district in an effort to help the then newcomer Mark Grisanti. That made the Niagara County based district far more competitive than it had been before.
Freshman Senator Rob Ortt is an attractive young politician and war veteran who performed ably in his 2014 election. If Democrats are to be competitive, they will need an attractive and charismatic candidate who can mobilize women voters and the labor unions.
NYSUT officials have suggested that they would like to recruit a retired longtime educators for public office. It’s rumored that Mike Deely, the regional political director of NYSUT, is planning to spend upwards of $1 million on the seat. Deely is a gruff union boss whose unpolished style weakened his ability to advance a compelling campaign message in last year’s election of Marc Panepinto, a race in which Deely spent heavily.