Fur always flies during petition season in Western New York and 2014 is no exception. Leaders of the Erie County Democratic Committee (ECDC) are in a pitched battle with the rival Democrat faction led by Cuomo insider Steve Pigeon, Cheektowaga chair Frank Max and Mayor Byron Brown and the war is spilling into the petition process. Word has it that Pigeon-Max-Brown are primarying hundreds of ECDC members and judicial delegates loyal to chairman Jeremy Zellner. For his part, Zellner is trying to knock off many PMB loyalists, too.
Enter Mike Deely, regional staff director of the New York State United Teachers Union. He’s one of the largest donors to the ECDC over the years and a longtime member of the party’s executive board. Deely recently joined PMB forces, upset with the direction headquarters has taken in the last year. Needless to say, this doesn’t sit well with Zellner loyalists. In fact, the animosity may have gotten a little out of hand at the Erie County Board of Elections (BoE) last week.
Insiders say that when Deely’s petitions came into the BoE last week, Democrat Election Board leader Dennis Ward and other loyalists go a bit upset. It’s not clear which election board official did it, but Deely’s petitions were allegedly torn up and thrown out. The second committeeman on that petition ended up on another petition with another committeeman instead of Deely – one loyal to Zellner. Those petitions have been filed.
Destroying nominating petitions is illegal. This story will unfold more clearly in the days ahead – watch this space!