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Hello, Buffalo GOP, Where Are You?

by on September 16, 2009

As sad as it is that Byron Brown was effectively relected last night, it is just as sad that the mayoral race is over now, regardless of who won.

I’ve various comments on the radio that Buffalo voters “had a choice” for this election, but did they really? Sure, Buffalo Democrats had a choice (and, in my opinion, they made the wrong one,) but not Buffalo Republicans or Buffalo voters as a whole. And that is sad.

I come from Massachusetts, and I know very well the frustration of living in a place dominated by one-party. I have debated with party leaders (here and back in Massachusetts) over the merits of putting up a candidate in a futile race for the sake of having a Republican on the ballot. I can see the arguments from both perspectives: As a voter/activist, I want to see the party put up candidates, to give me someone on the ballot who supports the same things I do. As a party leader, I’d rather save my resources on winnable races.

I know that months ago, the Buffalo GOP seemed ready to put up a candidate for mayor. But, Rick Gattone’s candidacy was shortlived, and the Buffalo GOP didn’t give Matthew Ricchiazzi any support. And why not? With a young candidate on the ballot backed by a major party, at the very least the Buffalo GOP would have gotten enough press that voters would have been reminded that the Republican Party actually exists in the city. Races can’t be won if you don’t bother showing up at the starting line.

As a Democrat-stronghold, running a Republican candidate didn’t have to be about winning as much as it could have been about reminding the voters that there is a still a choice. By giving up a race before it even started, it sends a message that there are no options for the city of Buffalo… that the status quo is the best we can hope for.

So, the Buffalo GOP needs to start showing up at the starting line, and needs to do a better job of reminding voters not only that they have a choice, but of how Democrats have (with the consent of the majority) failed them repeatedly. A party without opposition isn’t accountable to anyone, not even the voters. Remember, Buffalo doesn’t have to be a dying city, but it will stay that way if the people running things know they will get reelected no matter what, that they are safe. When people like Byron Brown (or even Sam Hoyt) keep winning, they are being told that nothing, not even lack of morals or scandal, can knock them down because party loyalty gives them job security. Is that progress? Nope. But, the voters are the one’s making that mistake — but that’s a topic for another blog entry.

Of course, running candiates isn’t the only answer. The party is in tough shape. I’ve been to a few Buffalo GOP and Erie County Republican Party events in the past year. They remind me of GOP events I went to in Massachusetts: Everyone pretty much knows eachother because it is the same people showing up every time. I have nothing against active party members, but a new recruit is worth more than a $25 or a $50 check from the same person who reliably goes to all of the events. That’s not the way to grow the party.

The path to relevancy will be a tough one for the Buffalo GOP, but without showing signs of life the party might as be dead anyway.

  1. I agree with you on this 100%. The feckless city GOP is busy being cynical, and little else. As the story goes, they don’t run people for city races because they think that this will suppress Democratic turnout in November, thus helping Republican candidates in suburban races or countywide races (Kadet, Collins).

    But politics is supposed to be, at least theoretically, about ideas and the competition between them.

    I don’t know if success would be in the cards if the best, most charismatic, most idea-filled Republican went up against the Grassroots GOTV juggernaut, but at the very least the discussion about the city’s direction and future would continue for another 1 1/2 months.

    The fact that this is all over in September does a disservice to everybody.

    Just think – the Democratic turnout in the city was 33%. 63% of that number voted for Byron Brown.

    Out of a city of almost 300,000 people, only 24,600 decided who will be its next mayor.

    There’s something horribly wrong with that.

  2. I agree whoheatedly that there needs to be be opposition candidates in the local general elections.

    The problem is exactly what that opposition is in name. No offense, but your party is having big problems on the national scene lately. Over the years the GOP has evolved to embrace demagoguery, hatemongering, and spreading disinformation as its primary tactics for winning elections and consolidating power. Your party is becoming more and more a regional bloc of misguided people stirred up by base emotions, bigotry, religious extremism, and insecurity.

    In know many voters in the city who would gladly vote for someone in the GE who is not Byron Brown, yet they can’t bring themselves to pull the lever for someone under the Republican column.

    Nearly everywhere in the urban Northeast suffers from the same “one-party-state” syndrome because the national two-party system completely fails to scale to state and local politics. Different regions of the US are home to different cultures and political realities.

    I hate to keep tooting the same horn, but there seriously needs to be another party on the scene. A party that can find moderate common cause among those in opposition to the Northern big-city Democratic political machines.

  3. Fully agree with Buffalobean and Buffalopundit on this one

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