By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette — It’s the season for schmoozing.
Time to cross the aisle and heap praise on a politician of another party. At the same time, any candidate running for re-election, especially a vulnerable one, needs to choose coattails wisely.
A prime example: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat with a favorability rating of a record 70 percent. That’s the kind of guy it helps to be on the right side of, when you’re a candidate of another party stripe.
Three area Republican lawmakers — Sen. George Maziarz, R- Newfane, Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, and Assemblyman John D. Ceretto, R-Lewiston — are obviously counting heavily on Cuomo’s popularity in their November races.
It is clear they relish the chance to bask in the governor’s glory on Capitol Hill, citing a perceived clean-up of corruption, the end to a thoroughly dysfunctional Legislature, and the increased number of private sector jobs. Voters in the Empire State surely are a little more savvy than that.
The new era of good feeling works both ways, to be sure. Cuomo can hardly afford to slight upstate lawmakers — regardless of party affiliation — who represent thousands of people hurting from the depressed economy. By helping re-elect them, Cuomo can expand his base for a future run as the state’s Chief Executive or to a higher office.
Thus, the latest campaign commercial extolling Grisanti’s efforts in staunchly supporting the “UB 20-20” legislation, a long-term plan to encourage economic growth and create jobs in Western New York. As they say, that’s a no-brainer. Don’t expect to hear Grisanti though lauded for his crucial vote on same-sex marriage. That’s still contentious on both sides of the aisle.
Maziarz probably never gave the time of day to either of the former Democratic governors, Eliot Spitzer or David Paterson, even before they became embroiled in scandals of their own making. The two governors simply weren’t the schmoozing type. In light of what happened, it’s easy to understand why.
Most recently, the senator seized an opportunity to impress Cuomo by leading the forces to authorize the Nik Wallenda walk across the Niagara Gorge.
Ceretto, facing a tough fight for re-election, has often stressed his role too in helping Wallenda secure permission for his high-profile act. What isn’t clear though is how — as Ceretto contends — Wallenda’s dramatic feat will create jobs and boost the area economy. Or keep young college graduates at home instead of relocating elsewhere.
Reading Ceretto’s campaign material, you get the firm impression that he has been part of the team restoring confidence in state government. With the scandals in Albany during the past year or so, there’s reason to believe that the public trust is still an elusive goal. On that subject, where’s the strict code of ethics that was promised by the current governor when he took office?
• WHY NOT NIAGARA? Speaking of Gov. Cuomo, isn’t it about time that he visits Niagara Falls, the nation’s oldest state park and some area attractions to boost tourism. It’s common knowledge that his favorite place in the Empire State is the Adirondacks, as evidenced by his recent junket there when he hosted the media. It was unfortunate that he didn’t have time to attend the opening of the new Niagara Falls Culinary Institute on Old Falls Street. (Instead Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy was sent.) Could it be that Cuomo is dodging the Cataract City these days because of the ongoing issue over the long-delayed casino revenues that Niagara Falls sorely needs to balance its budget?
• AVID READER: Overheard in Murphy’s Cafe, Third Street: “I saw in the paper where the editor of Cliff Notes died. He was George Bush’s favorite author” — a diehard Democrat who blames everything on the former president.Contact Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.