There is a seemingly typical political mailer arriving in mailboxes in Buffalo, with this year’s slate of Republican candidates – Sheriff Tim Howard, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, Assemblyman and Erie County clerk candidate Mickey Kearns, and Buffalo mayoral candidate Ashleigh Somers.
Wait a minute – who?
“I guess the Republicans do have a candidate in the mayoral race – she is running against me in the Reform Party Primary to help Byron Brown,” said Democratic mayoral candidate Mark Schroeder. “This reminds me when the mayor teamed up with Chris Collins in previous elections, and when his deputy mayor, Steve Casey, ran a printing business with Collins’ chief of staff Chris Grant.”
“Looks like the gang is back together again,” he added.
The mailer was sent to voters not affiliated with any party, who can vote in the Reform Party primary election because of some obscure state election law. Somers is opposing Schroeder, the endorsed Reform Party candidate, in Tuesday’s primary.
“One person signed Ashleigh Somers’ petition – that person was Ashleigh Somers. Then she challenged my petitions, and lost. Then she sued me to get me off the ballot, and lost,” said Schroeder. “The Republicans were putting her up to this, of course, in their effort to help Byron Brown and suppress turnout in the City of Buffalo.”
The mailer also incorrectly says Somers is the endorsed Reform Party candidate – twice.
“They have no problem blatantly lying multiple times on this mailer,” said Schroeder. “Considering the cast of characters involved, I’m not surprised.”
Schroeder pointed to Republican chairman Nick Langworthy clearing the field for Brown this year and in the mayor’s previous two elections. His last endorsed Republican opponent was Kevin Helfer in 2005.
“Now Kevin Helfer is Byron Brown’s de facto deputy mayor,” said Schroeder. “The ties between Mayor Brown and the Republicans run deep.”
Schroeder thinks the effort will ultimately backfire.
“When Reform Party members and unaffiliated voters go to the polls, are they going to vote for an actual mayoral candidate, or someone they’ve never heard of?” asked Schroeder. “Unaffiliated voters have already told me they are excited to vote for me.”
The Reform Party leadership is standing firm behind Schroeder.
“There is only one candidate that can lead Buffalo out of this ‘Pay for Play’ stench,” said Curtis Sliwa, state Reform Party chairman and founder of the Guardian Angels. “It is a true reformer, City Comptroller Mark Schroeder.”
Schroeder said the Republican efforts to help Brown go farther than just minor party shenanigans.
“Why would lifelong Democrat Mickey Kearns choose not to run in the Democratic Primary for the first time in his career?” said Schroeder, pointing out that Conservative Party chairman Ralph Lorigo was quoted in the Buffalo News that he advised Kearns not to run in his own party’s primary.
“It’s Because Nick Langworthy and his Conservative Party collaborator Ralph Lorigo don’t want Mickey to drive up turnout in South Buffalo, which would help me,” said Schroeder. “They are trying to help the mayor any way they can.”
Schroeder said the efforts against him should give pause to voters in the Democratic Primary.
“I think Buffalo Democrats should ask themselves – ‘Why do the Republicans want Byron Brown to win so badly?’”