Former State Senator George Maziarz, once one of Western New York’s most powerful politicians, could make a stunning political comeback — following vindication from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman‘s prosecution against him, widely seen as partisan prosecutorial misconduct.
It looks increasingly likely that State Senator Robert Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) will be selected by party leaders to replace Rep. Chris Collins as the Republican nominee to Congress — in a district with a nearly insurmountable GOP enrollment advantage. They see the 39-year-old National Gaurd veteran and former Mayor of North Tonawanda as a long-term play for the House Speakership.
That creates a ballot vacancy for Senate in Maziarz’s old district, where he remains well known and popular. Maziarz had cultivated a top leadership position in the Senate Republican caucus and was seen for many years as an eventual Majority Leader. Now party leaders in Western New York, increasingly resentful of episodes they see as prosecutorial misconduct, want to reinstate their former power broker in Albany — and reassert his seniority in the chamber.
If Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan loses control of the chamber this cycle, Maziarz would lead the effort to retake the chamber and claim the leadership post, they postulate.
Such an elevation of the two men would yield considerable new political clout for Niagara County in Albany and Washington. The county still struggles to redevelop Niagara Falls and to secure funding for pressing environmental remediation projects.