The once formidable faction of the Democratic Party led by the fallen political operative G. Steven Pigeon has been essentially neutralized, following a stunning series of indictments on wide ranging public corruption and campaign related charges from state and federal investigators.
The faction still lusts for its former influence, and yearns to be relevant in local politics once again. But ego and infighting has neutralized its ability to organize, and broader distastes in the body politic limit the machine’s ability to market its own value proposition.
The election law expert, Peter A. Reese, a brilliant political saboteur, is actively plotting a takeover of the local Erie County Democratic Party Committee. He is a longtime confidant of Pigeon, an attorney, and a University at Buffalo trained engineer. He intends to run for Chairman with a slate of opposition candidates for committeeman positions.
Reese is unpopular among local operatives, particularly among labor figures who disparage his handling of contract negotiations while at Roswell Park. CSEA and PEF members have been badly damaged by Reese’s inability secure better contracts.
Chairman Jeremy Zellner is in a secure position to defend against any challengers, particularly following his newfound willingness to engage with emerging East Side political factions, which has coincided with the public relations collapse of Grassroots Inc, an organization founded by Pigeon and intended to co-opt the Black vote.
Pigeon’s closest associates, Kristy Mazurek, David Pfaff, Frank Max, and Maurice Garner, are focused on more pressing issues than the next election cycle. Others like Lisa Yeager, Dan Jones, Ellen Mendelson, and Mark Manna, are said to have distanced themselves from the political faction. Two of the faction’s most senior ‘thought leaders,’ Jack O’Donnell and Camille Brandon, have distanced themselves more successfully than others.
It’s unclear how Reese intends to win the Chairmanship after such a long history of controversial political involvement. Observers expect that his campaign finance vehicle — ostensibly an animal rights outfit called No Kill PAC — will be a key branding tool in the effort.
Operatives wonder whether Reese’s skill sets might be more suitable in a supporting role — perhaps as a deputy to the more fashionable Tracy Cardwell, whom many operatives see as more suited for such a visible communications role, like that of Chairman.