BY MATT RICCHIAZZI
The headquarters faction of Erie County Democrats is planning a vicious smear campaign of Kristy Mazurak, the pioneering journalist and local reformer seeking the Democratic nomination for State Assembly. The attack is being architected by the embattled young Jeremy Zellner, whose chairmanship is widely seen to be in jeopardy at the party’s reorganization meeting later this year.
Mazurak is a senior architect of the opposition movement of Democrats who have been planning to oust the regime formerly led by Chairman Joe Crangle. Defectors allege that the headquarters faction is largely driven by patronage and graft, a product of a poisonous longstanding political culture.
A close associate of the former Democratic Party Chairman G. Steven Pigeon, Mazurak is squarely in Zellner’s crosshairs. The smear is being executed by The Public, a loosely read magazine of a decidedly liberal perspective and closely aligned with patronage operatives who regularly pose as journalists.
Among them, Alan Bedenko: a mediocre middle aged attorney who has taken to political bogging since 2007, when he lost his bid for a seat on the County Legislature. Bedenko is “very, very… very close” to County Executive Mark Poloncarz, an administration official notes.
In his capacity as a blogger and columnist, Bedenko acts quickly to squash weak candidates who are unaffiliated with party headquarters or seen to be insubordinate. Bedenko so regularly smears headquarters’ political enemies — and does so on call — that such attacks have become expected by the small circles of operatives who largely control our region’s governance and public resources.
He does this while accepting legal work from the county and an appointment from Poloncarz to the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library’s Board of Trustees. Critics have begun to ask questions about the propriety of Bedenko’s simultaneous relationship with Poloncarz, his habit of smearing political opponents, and his acceptance of taxpayer funded legal work for the county.
Sources say that Zellner, Poloncarz, and Bedenko are planning a relentless attack on Mazurek that has already begun with contrived allegations of compliance issues with minor campaign finance technicalities.
“Jeremy is planning to cast Mazurak as a drunkard and a floozy,” claims one source who enjoys a county patronage position. “It’s the classic smear of a female candidate. It’s archaic, it’s wrong, and it fuels a deeply sexist double standard for office seekers.”
Some operatives speculate that Zellner’s attacks will backfire — especially with women voters.