Coppola’s absence in 60th district makes Democrat primary wide open

Former State Senator Alfred T. Coppola‘s presence in the politics of the 60th State Senate district has been perpetually felt since he left office in 2000, following an election loss engineered by the political operative G. Steven Pigeon that installed Byron Brown to that State Senate office.  He has sought reelection to the seat many times since, often crowding out a Democrat primary in a way that makes it difficult for a Democrat to muster a competitive general election campaign.

Sources close to Coppola’s thinking say that he wants to make the space for a younger political newcomer to emerge, which would help the party field a stronger contender against incumbent Republican Chris Jacobs. The district enjoys a 2-to-1 enrollment advantage for Democrats, who are intent are retaking the chamber. Coppola’s views on many social issues have become dated — like on marijuana, for instance — making a run difficult in the current political environment.

The primary is likely to be a contest between two Democrats, one of whom pledges to caucus with the mainline Democrats and another who pledges to caucus with the independent Democrats.

The race is attracting a slew of grassroots candidates — but it won’t be clear who will be on the ballot until candidate petitioning concludes, a process that begins in early June and ends in early July.  The signatures of 500 registered voters of one’s political party are needed to qualify for the primary ballot.  Minor party candidates — like the Conservative, Independence, Reform, Green, or Libertarian parties require far fewer petition signatures (often only 10 or 15 signatures), but require you to be an enrolled party member or get the prior authorization to run from the party committee.

It’s far too early to tell which names will eventually appear on the 60th district’s ballot, but many names are being suggested among political operatives, including West Side activist Kathy Mecca, former Deputy Elections Commissioner Gayle Syposs, Kenmore Mayor Patrick Mang, Councilman Joe Golombek, and attorney Kevin Stocker.

Operatives contemplate that, if former City Housing Commissioner Joe Masica were to run, his third party candidacy could swing the outcome of the race in several general election scenarios.

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