It should come as no surprise to regular readers of Niagara Times that today's blog post focuses on the defeat of Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte. I was going to label the defeat as "stunning", but the reality is that anyone who has followed the three-decades long career of DelMonte should not be surprised.
Too many missteps by DelMonte led to this. Her unwavering support of Sheldon Silver. Her vote to send $550 million in NYPA revenues generated in Lewiston to Albany. Her taking away of the county's share of the casino money. Her inability to address the massive economic woes plaguing Niagara Falls. Her refusal to condemn NYPA's screwing of Niagara County. She has failed her constituency at every turn.
She should have seen this coming. Last year, her protege and Legislative Director Nick Melson was demolished by an unknown 23 year-old named Vince Sandanato in Melson's bid for a county legislature seat. Melson had run on a platform of being DelMonte's "inside man". He told voters that he had all of the Albany bigwig's phone numbers on speed dial. They weren't impressed.
That race was a referendum on DelMonte. Despite Melson's resounding defeat, DelMonte didn't get the message. She didn't change her ways. Her arrogance is as much to blame for her loss as any single factor. She got what she deserved.
Sandanato was instrumental in the outcome of this race. He owns LaSalle. He was an animal in driving out the vote against DelMonte. Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster should be very worried about Vince Sandanato. If Sandanato should decide to take a shot at Dyster next year, he could win. Don't laugh, I'm not joking. I don't care if he is 24 years-old. This guy has the political acumen, the work ethic, the connections and the drive to win a race against Dyster.
Dyster should also look at his role in DelMonte's loss and analyze what that means for him, like DelMonte should have done after Melson's loss. Dyster lobbied hard for DelMonte. He dropped personalized letters on behalf of her into Niagara Falls. She lost Niagara Falls. That is not a good omen for Dyster.
The bottom line is that DelMonte is gone. I'm sure she'll be well taken care of by Silver, likely landing some patronage job paying six figures with the state. That's the payback for undying loyalty to Silver. But Dyster is now on an island. County legislature minority leader Dennis "Weave" Virtuoso has lost a huge ally in Albany. When the dust settles, all they have left is each other. Frankly, they can have each other. Our state and this county are better places without Francine DelMonte in the Assembly.