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.
The use of the word viscous in the headline seems out of place. Maybe you meant vicious. But, in reality this article seems more like a vicious attack on Alan Bedenko masquerading as an article warning of an impending attack on Kristy Mazurek, in my view.
If I recall correctly, two years ago it was the GOP that viciously attacked Kristy’s brother Mark Mazurek, not Democratic headquarters. And I would assume the same from the GOP this time, should Kristy make it onto the November ballot.
And those Republicans would not hesitate to call Kristy those names mentioned in order to keep that seat, but I don’t see Democratic establishment figures using those terms. And they don’t need to.
I recall the messaging in the Buffalo News about Kristy already being out there for all the world to see, from Democratic Party leaders, having to do with ethics being the main issue this year and Kristy being embroiled in the criminal mess swirling around her ally Steve Pigeon, and the crazy thought that Kristy just might not be the right person to have in Albany to fight for ethics when her own ethics are being questioned. The same messaging also says that maybe the best chance for ethics reform is electing someone like Monica Wallace, a law school professor who teaches ethics and whose legitimacy for public service is not being questioned, and she’s not being questioned by New York State prosecutors and the FBI.
The terms used in this article, which I would rather not repeat, would not be needed, are difficult to prove, and would surely be slanderous. And who would need them anyway when Kristy herself has provided a mountain of fodder which call her ethics into question.