The word in political circles across the state is that New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the individual who presides over the Assembly, is expecting to lose between 15-20 seats in November's elections. Considering that the Democrats hold 105 of the 150 seats in the Assembly, Silver is in no danger whatsoever of losing his majority. But he could be losing many of his supporters, including Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte.
It is no secret that DelMonte is in serious trouble. She is facing an extremely formidable challenge from Democratic candidate John Accardo, and should she win that contest, which is in doubt, she must face Niagara County Legislator John Ceretto in the General Election. As Mike Hudson recently reported in the Niagara Falls Reporter, recent poll numbers in the Accardo/DelMonte primary race indicate that DelMonte is in for the race(s) of her political life.
The poll that Hudson elaborates on is not the only poll that has been commissioned recently. Sources have told Niagara Times that DelMonte has recently did some polling of her own, but the story doesn't end there.
DelMonte spent $19,000 from her campaign war chest to employ the services of a company by the name of Kiley and Company, a Boston, Massachusetts "market research" firm. This raises multiple questions. Firstly, why would DelMonte use a firm from Massachusetts to poll her Assembly District in Niagara County? Secondly, why on God's green earth would she spend $19,000 on a poll that could be done by any firm for about $4,000? Fortunately, we have the answers to those questions.
It seems that Silver, the one individual that many point to as the single biggest reason that New York state government is regularly labeled the most dysfunctional government in the country, has a vested interest in Kiley and Company. Kiley is Silver's favored polling organization for the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee (DACC), the fund raising arm of the Dems in the Assembly. In fact, Silver demands that many Democratic candidates for New York State Assembly, regardless of whether the candidate is a long-term incumbent or a newcomer, utilize the services of Kiley and Company before DACC will provide the candidate with financial support. That is why Francine DelMonte dropped $19k on what should have been a $4,000 poll to a firm in Massachusetts.
This is what we like to refer to as legal extortion.
DelMonte has no one to blame but herself. Every two years for the past 10 years, DelMonte has voted for Sheldon Silver to retain his position as Assembly Speaker. The fact that she is willing to spend $19,000 on a poll to be conducted by a Massachusetts company shows just how willing she is to sell her soul to Silver. She knows that if she doesn't spend the money up front, there will be no DACC money on the back end.
Silver knows that he can count on DelMonte to support his bid for re-election to Speaker come January. He also knows that DelMonte doesn't have the courage to stand up to him, like Mark Schroeder from Buffalo does. So he forces her to drop $19k to his favored firm in Boston, with the promise of tens or hundreds of thousands of DACC dollars to come.
This is just another example of DelMonte's unwavering devotion to Silver and his Manhattan bureaucrats. If she was even slightly concerned with retaining jobs in our community, she would utilize one of the many firms in Western New York that provide the exact same service at a fraction of the cost. Unfortunately for us, her only concerns are kowtowing to downstate special interests and getting re-elected. It seems that the residents of the 138th have finally come to this realization.