Declared Congressional candidate Sean Bunny, a former prosecutor with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, is being encouraged by Democratic Party activists to instead run against Senator Patrick Gallivan (R-Elma). The encouragement comes after Grand Island Supervisor Nate McMurray secured the endorsement of Democratic Party boss Jeremy Zellner.
Gallivan’s conservative district could be suitable for a Democrat with law enforcement credentials, like Bunny’s. Gallivan is the former Erie County Sheriff whose mismanagement of the Erie County Holding Center is credited with creating the horrific conditions that have manifested since his departure from the office.
Gallivan also came under scrutiny in recent years for his campaign spending. He was a target of the since-defunct Moreland Commission, after spending more than $80,000 on unitemized credit card expenses. Sources say much of that spending was for personal wardrobe items, pricy haircuts, and spray tanning.
Since 2014, Gallivan has spent more than $50,000 on legal fees; $25,000 of which was reportedly spent in the last twelve months.
Former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, had confiscated the Commission’s records after it was abruptly disbanded by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Sources close to Gallivan tell The Chronicle that the Senator is worried that the investigation against him is progressing with increasing speed.
It’s unclear if the US Attorney’s office will take action in the case prior to State Senate elections later this year, but most operatives think that such a development would make the otherwise Republican district rather competitive. A former Assistant District Attorney could be precisely the candidate that Democrats would be fortuitous to field.
The rural, largely conservative district has not been aggressively contested since the retirement of former Senator Dale Volker, who had been forced out by former Erie County Republican Chairman Jim Domagalski and his deputy, current Chairman Nick Langworthy.
The former Chairman ran for the seat and lost badly in the primary, but not before fraying Carl Paladino’s relationship with local activists, and thereby splitting Western New York’s Tea Party movement in two. The moment is seen as a key inflection point that undermined the local GOP’s political prowess.