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JAN 20 - JAN 28, 2015

Lorigo, Conservatives Gear Up for 2015 Political Season

By Tony Farina

January 20, 2015

Kingmaker: Erie County Conservative Chairman
Ralph Lorigo

The contest for Erie County executive may be the marquee election matchup this year but it is far from the only race that voters will decide in 2015.

“We expect to endorse as many as 250 candidates,” says Ralph Lorigo, chairman of the Erie County Conservative Committee in discussing the upcoming election season.

Lorigo has served as chairman of the powerful Conservative Committee since 1995 making him the longest sitting party leader in the county. With the Conservative Party retaining the much-coveted third line on the ballot, the party’s endorsement is seen by veteran political observers as critical to the hopes of many of the candidates who will be running this year.

“The [endorsement] process has already begun,” said Lorigo during an interview earlier this week. “I am talking to people every day and we will consider any candidate who asks for our endorsement and many of them are already showing up at my breakfast on Saturdays at Daisies.”

Lorigo said in order to win his party’s endorsement, a candidate must agree to champion the conservative values that the party espouses, and that includes in fiscal matters.

The marquee matchup this year will be the race for county executive with incumbent Democrat Mark Poloncarz likely to face strong opposition in his bid for re-election to the county’s top post.

“Mark has not asked for our party’s endorsement but he did attend our Dec. 8 fundraiser,” Lorigo said. “There are two potential Republican officeholders who would be serious challengers if they decide to run. Chris Jacobs, the county clerk, won a second term four years ago with 67 percent of the vote and he got 26,000 votes on our line. He has a financial background as a developer and has been a strong supporter of the Bison fund to help minority students. I believe he has support on both sides of the aisle.”

Lorigo also noted the potential candidacy of Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw who won election with 62 percent of the vote and is well known from his years as a local television reporter.

“Both of their wins (Jacobs, Mychajliw) are especially impressive given the fact that Democrats hold a 2 to 1 edge in enrollment in Erie County,” said Lorigo.

But while the county executive race may be the marquee event, there many other contests in play this year including the Erie County Legislature where Republicans hold a 6 to 5 advantage (4 Republicans, 1 Independent, 1 Conservative). The Conservative in the majority block is Joe Lorigo, the son of the chairman and the recently re-elected majority leader.

In addition, all nine seats on the Buffalo Common Council are up although any Republican would have a tough time in the heavily Democratic city. Also, there are five judicial seats up this year with two Supreme Court seats, two County Court seats, and one Family Court spot up for grabs. Eugene Fahey’s recent appointment by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the Court of Appeals has opened up the second Supreme Court seat and some observers expect Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III to be a candidate. Also, there are races in the towns this year making it a very challenging endorsement process for Lorigo and his party.

“We have 35 members of our Executive Committee who will vote on our endorsements,” said Lorigo, “and we have 25 more people who are on our advisory board who will take part in the process and make recommendations.”

Lorigo emphasized that any candidate who asks for the party’s endorsement will be interviewed, noting the traditional start of the political season is St. Patrick’s Day, although the process is actually already under way.

“We will be getting down to the details in late April and will probably announce our endorsements in early May,” said the chairman.

In case you are curious and want to see who is considering a candidacy this year, stop in at Daisies (2711 South Park Ave., Lackawanna) some Saturday morning and do a head count of possible candidates who attend the famous breakfast hosted by Lorigo which will get more crowded every week as the political season begins in earnest.





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