Odds are that before recent events, you'd never heard of New York State Senator Bill Stachowski. This despite his having served over 27 years in the Senate. For most of his career, Stack toiled in virtual obscurity. He sat in the minority for those 27 years, until the Senate majority flipped with the 2008 election. All of the sudden, what Stachowski does matters.
He was identified by the Buffalo News as being the swing vote in the debate over gay marriage, and has been a strong ally of the union-dominated Working Families Party. Stachowski is faced with something he had never encountered in his previous 27 years in office: Relevance.
After last week's coup on the floor left the Republicans with a fragile 32-30 majority, one of the rogue senators, Hiram Monserrate, insinuated that the now "coalition" will fall apart if more Democrats don't join in.
Bill Stachowski, a Dem from Lake View, is one of the senators being heavily targeted by Upstate and Western New York interests to flip. Anthony Baynes, the former chairman of the Erie County control board and Buffalo-based Mark Hamister are just two of the prominent local businessmen that are said to be exerting pressure on Stack to side with the new coalition form of government.
As part of the enticement to flip, Stachowski has been offered the Chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee by the GOP-led coalition. During last year's election, when Stachowski was facing a significant challenge from former Buffalo cop Dennis Delano, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith promised this chairmanship to Stack. He failed to deliver on his promise. The chairmanship of Finance is one of the three most powerful positions in the Senate. The chairman of Finance is in a position to bring millions of dollars in funding back to his district, as well as wield significant power over the direction of legislation in this state. In essence, this position puts the person holding it in a position to do tremendous things for his district.
Which brings us to Stachowski's dilemma. If he says no to those who are pushing him to align with the new coalition and take the Chairmanship of Finance, he is saying that he is SO strongly aligned with the downstate Dems that he is willing to put the interests of New York City-based politicians ahead of the people whom he has been elected to represent. That is downright offensive.
Out of the 62 Senate seats, Stachowski is just one of five Democrats who do not represent a constituency in or around New York City. Please, someone tell me what NYC and WNY have in common. Whether he likes it or not, Stack has more in common with Dale Volker, George Maziarz, Cathy Young, Mike Ranzenhofer and every other Senator that represents Upstate.
He needs to put political parties aside, tell the NYC political bosses that he was elected to represent the interests of Western New York, and for the first time in his career, start doing just that.