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60th State Senate District: decision before Friday

November 14, 2010

Joel Giambra. photo credit WNY Media flickr

The 60th State Senate District race comes to finality next week in both Erie County and Niagara County when the 4,500 absentee ballots counted.

Democrats attempted to delay the process the Republicans argued for a speedier start time, while State Supreme Court Justice Frank Caruso ruled on Friday that Tuesday and Wednesday  this week the counting begins. Grisanti has a 597 lead over Thompson. Board of Elections counted 417 emergency ballots that resulted almost evenly divided between the two candidates.

Rumors circulating that Democrats  already landed a place for Thompson in New York City in an environmental firm. Also, rumored Mayor Byron Brown and the incumbent allegedly had a telephone riff of some sort related to the election surrounding concession perhaps, a shouting match ensued between the mentor and his protegé.

Mean while many theories circulated in the white media for what still might be the end of the incumbency of the second African-American to occupy the 60th State Senate District seat. Thompson followed in the foot steps of Mayor Brown the first African-American elected State Senator outside of New York City in 2001.

Buffalo News political columnist Bob McCarthy attributed the success of Grisanti to Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, calling it the “bubble that carried voters in his district and a possible upset over Democratic State Sen. Antoine Thompson.”

ArtVoice ,  writer Jeoff Kelly in his seven days column simply wrote, “too many voters in his East Side Buffalo base stayed home.”  Or that African-Americans sat out the vote and didn’t come out  for Thompson as they did for Mayor Brown when he ran or he recieved fewer votes than the last race, and  that “Grisanti’s campaign…largely directed by Joel Giambra the former Erie County executive.”

The November 11, 2010 edition of the small advertising community newspaper the Buffalo Rocket carried an interesting story  one  Joe Bortz  wrote in his column, Northwest Buffalo Beat, “Election.” Bortz reminisced the story of the Tortoise and the Hare from his grammar school days. He writes about how Joel Giambra a “long time associate…wanted to meet with him.” They met in early October this year.

They first met in 1980 “when  (Bortz) first purchased the West Side Times and (Giambra) was running for councilman in the district (West Side)…So we knew each other. He continued, “the meeting was to find out what our abilities were as far as printing and mailing as he was working on a Mark Grisanti campaign.”

Bortz incredulous about the task ahead his old  buddy Giambra attempted. So, he “looked at him in astonishment…the odds …5/1 against any Republican in the district. Giambra said, “why does everyone give us that look when we say Mark has a good chance?” Bortz responded he heard of the name Grisanti, “but did not know much about him.”

Bortz continued, “that was exactly what they were counting on.  He (Grisanti) was under the radar and nobody would think twice about him winning in this campaign, kind of like a Tortoise.” Thompson having defeated Al Coppola he viewed as the Hare in the race.

Then, “for the next three weeks,  our company worked many hours to get out the mailings that kept coming up for Mr. Grisanti. The more we saw going out, the more we were able to understand the method behind this scheme.”

“Still how do you overcome a 100,000 vote deficit?  This was all thought out and to my amazement seems to have worked so far.”…this proves that anyone has a chance in politics…voters do cross party lines to vote for a person instead of a party.”

Maybe so, but having a friend like  Joel Giambra helped Grisanti who left office with a campaign treasure chest and the political desire and dream to reclaim the 60th State Senate District seat for the Italian community similar to when former Mayor Anthony Masiello , Anthony Nanula, Al Coppola, and Marc Coppola held  it, especially during a redistricting year  lines drawn to favor not just an Italian but a white candidate at least that is what political pundits think.

While, Thompson is not under the bus yet  with  over 4000 votes  still to be counted, coming in mostly from Erie County that might favor him over Grisanti though Republicans highly doubtful while Democrats  are hopeful.

If he loses some say the media played a bigger role  than anything else from television to broadcast journalism that had a racial skew. Things taken out of content like the State of the 60th Senate District publication. In hindsight, its information that should be divulged to constituents whether on-line or in print that got lost in all the hullabaloo with the public denied an opportunity to know what was in the report.

And Thompson alienated the media at times issuing reports instead of meeting with reporters missing valuable op-ed  opportunities his opponent Grisanti took advantage of in front of the cameras. The  crude political literature the State Democratic committee sent about Grisanti didn’t help either while democratic operative John duke found a home in the Grisanti camp  after Thompson dismissed him  from his entourage for his involvement in community activities he didn’t agree with.

Still,  “this race is not over until you cross the finish line,” wrote Joe Bortz. The Hare still a bit ahead of the tortoise but  for how much longer…?


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