Yesterday we posted the Buffalo News piece detailing the resignation announcement of Niagara County GOP Chairman Henry Wojtsazek. Wojtaszek's success in local elections is unprecedented and he's leaving the organization with an extremely strong foundation that will likely remain intact for many years to come.
His counterpart can hardly say the same.
The era of Niagara County Democratic Chairman Dan Rivera has been an unmitigated disaster. His tenure has been marked by failure, scandal, internal strife and humiliation. His inability to identify issues that would resonate with voters is staggering. Even those of us at Niagara Times have made it a fairly regular pastime to point out the multitude of political deficiencies that Rivera brings to the table, as illustrated here, here, here and, one of my all-time favorite posts, here (it's worth reading again, really!)
But most of all, he just doesn't win elections.
He has failed to make any inroads into the GOP's super-majority in the county legislature, which was especially shocking when the entire country swung Democratic with the Obama wave two years ago. But even after the 2007 elections, he still had the Lewiston Supervisor seat and the North Tonawanda Mayoral seat to claim as Democratic stalwarts.
That changed Tuesday, when NT Mayor Larry Soos and Lewiston Supervisor Fred Newlin were pummeled by Rob Ortt and Steve Reiter, respectively. Apparently those two losses, coupled with the loss of Francine DelMonte's legislative aide Nick Melson to Vince Sandonato in the Fifth LD and no pickups in the county legislature, were enough to draw the fury of other prominent Democrats in the county.
In fact, Delmonte and Rivera are engaged in what can only be described as political warfare because of Rivera's abandoning of Melson in the middle of the campaign, and County Legislator Renae Kimble is openly calling for Rivera to step down as chairman. Since he was duly elected by the committee, he cannot be removed. If other Democrats want Rivera gone, they have to pressure him to resign.
That's exactly what's about to happen.
Niagara Times has learned that local Democratic leaders, other than Rivera, will be convening for a meeting on Saturday in Niagara Falls to discuss the future of their illustrious party leader. It's not going to bode well for Rivera.
Prominent Democrats, lead by DelMonte, have had enough of Rivera and are poised to force his resignation.
Those being mentioned as successors to Rivera include former county coroner Jim Joyce, soon-to-be former county legislator Sean O'Connor and former Assembly candidate Gary Parenti.
The reality is that no matter who steps into the role as Chairman of the Niagara County Democratic Party, the only direction he can take it is up. Maybe pick up a legislature seat here, a council seat there. But the damage done by Rivera will take years to recover from.
For all of his rhetoric and hyperbole, and his labeling of politics as a "blood sport", Rivera showed that he is nothing more than a sheep in wolf's clothing, incapable of effectively leading his party on a local level, or any level for that matter.