Tom Richards is either thanking or cursing his friends right now.
Sunday night, the Independence Party announced it wants people to continue to vote for Richards in November, even though he dropped out of the race for mayor. Richards will still appear on the Independence and Working Families party lines. The press release to newsrooms included a link to a website, TurnoutforTom.com.
Monday, the Independence Party wouldn’t return phone calls. Richards said in a statement he never talked to the Independence Party about this announcement. (He also didn’t say he would refuse the job if elected.) The effort appeared dead on arrival, but there were questions about who was behind the sudden stealth campaign.
It turns out, the Independence Party had some help. In a stunningly embarrassing move, the chairperson of the party sent the Democrat and Chronicle an op-ed about his support for Richards. He accidentally included an email chain that revealed the true author of the op-ed: Gary Walker, Richards’ spokesman. Walker crafted the message with assistance from fire administrator Molly Clifford and her partner, UNICON’s Ken Warner.
Walker, Clifford and Warner are Democrats who support Richards. Walker and Clifford were going to lose their jobs in a Warren administration. With this move, they certainly lit a match and torched the bridge on their way out.
Now, Richards will be immediately asked to renounce their effort. He will be pressed into saying what will happen if he wins. The longer he goes without discouraging people to vote for him, the wider the rift in the Democratic Party will grow.
This effort could damage Warren, who is already under fire for dodging questions. It is the first sign that not all Democrats were good soldiers and lined up behind Warren. If the Richards “not-campaign” continues, Warren risks losing the 70 percent vote total she’s likely trying to capture on Election Day to prove she has a mandate.
I believe a Richards third-party win would require much more effort than a last-minute campaign in which he’s not a participant. Even if he had been actively campaigning, he faced long odds. Aaron Wicks, the only blogger who predicted Warren’s win, breaks down why Richards can’t win on a third party line.
But thank you, Gary, Molly & Ken for spicing up what had turned into a rather dull post-primary run-up to November.
Let’s talk about Bob Duffy’s giant mess. When Sandy Parker announced Monday she is staying on at Rochester Business Alliance, I thought she would be paving the way for Duffy to take over once his first term as lieutenant governor is up next year.
But a source points out Parker might have to stay on because Duffy bowed out of the job. He’s now facing ethics questions related to his reported application for the job. RBA is a lobbying group and state law places lobbying restrictions on former elected officials. Duffy also has a conflict of interest if he’s applying for a job with a lobbying group while serving as lieutenant governor. Then there’s the matter of the unlisted Keuka Lake house Duffy bought from Parker without disclosing. Furthermore, Duffy has another connection to RBA: As mayor he helped orchestrate the $1 sale of a Plymouth Ave. lot to John Summers, Parker’s husband and RBA board member. With the Moreland Commission now investigating all kinds of Albany political dealings, why take any chances? Give up the RBA plan and move on.
It’s also very possible Duffy seriously angered the governor if he didn’t see this coming.
Today, Parker denied any and all knowledge of Duffy wanting her job, calling it media speculation.
Duffy has not made similar denials. He won’t comment on rumors he sought the RBA position or that he might not want to be lieutenant governor for another term. He and Cuomo say they’ll talk about his political future next year.
What a disaster for the once-rising political star. Nazareth College’s Tim Kneeland calls Duffy “damaged goods” because of this fiasco. Wicks declares him dead.