Lenihan: Cuomo’s Feelings A ‘Factor’ In (Latest) Retirement Decision
After ten years at the helm of the Erie County Democratic Party, Chairman Len Lenihan has decided not to seek re-election to a sixth term.
Lenihan’s decision was first reported by The Buffalo News. The chairman confirmed his imminent departure during a brief telephone conversation with me late this afternoon.
“We’ve won everything there is to win,” Lenihan told me. “When I came in, our party was almost totally defunct. We started from scratch.”
“The Republicans had all the countywide seats. Two of three congressional seats…Ten years later, we control the county executive’s office, the county legislature, the county comptroller, 11 of the last 13 supreme court seats, and now we have all three congressional seats. We have accomplished the goals of complete revitalization of the party. It’s time to move on.”
This has been a long time coming.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo made no secret of the fact that he didn’t support Lenihan remaining as chairman. He dispatched state Democratic Party Executive Director Charlie King to travel to Western New York and broker a peace pact of sorts between the infamously warring factions of the Erie County Democratic organization that included Lenihan’s resignation.
About a year ago, Lenihan announced his retirement. But on the day he was supposed to leave – in part bolstered by the unexpected and nationally significant special election win by Rep. Kathy Hochul in NY-26 – he rescinded his decision.
I asked Lenihan how much Cuomo’s dissatisfaction with him played in to his decision to finally throw in the towel, and he replied:
“There’s no doubt the governor’s feelings were a factor. But in the end, it wasn’t the decisive factor. After restoring the party to a position of dominance in Western New York, I decided it was time to move on. You can ask anyone out there, I could have won re-election. But to what purpose? I’m going out on top.”
The BN’s Bob McCarthy says Lenihan’s departure will touch off a scramble for his position. (The chairman declined to endorse a successor, saying he wants to wait for Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, the “titular head” of the party, to weigh in). McCarthy’s list of potential candidates include:
Cheektowaga Chairman Frank C. Max Jr.; Tonawanda Chairman John J. Crangle; attorney Peter Reese; Erie County Water Authority Commissioner Jack O’Donnell; attorney Marc C. Panepinto; and former Mayor Anthony M. Masiello.
No doubt Cuomo will have something to say about this, too.
ADDED: Lenihan’s office forwarded this letter, which was sent to Erie County Democratic Party committee members:
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on July 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm, and is filed under Democrats, Upstate NY. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|