Did you enjoy your two-month respite from local election news? I hope so, because that’s over now.
On the national level, people started sizing up 2016 almost the second the 2012 elections ended. Hillary Clinton can’t buy a pair of shoes without people reading ulterior motives into the purchase. “Hillary bought flats today — a sensible choice for someone who plans to spend a lot of time on the campaign trail!”
Locally, though, we caught a bit of a breather after the mayoral chaos of 2011 and the big Brooks-Slaughter Congressional clash last year. That ends today with the announcement that City Council President Lovely Warren may run for Rochester mayor.
I’d been laboring under the presumption that if incumbent Tom Richards runs again — no means a sure thing — he’d have a clear field. After all, the general consensus is that he’s been a strong mayor, and the party seemed to be behind him, even after the rocky start.
Of course, more than one person — including Molly Clifford, the city’s director of fire administration, and City Council member Elaine Spaull put his or her mayoral dreams on hold in 2011 so Richards could run. And it’s been clear for a long time that Warren would go for mayor, the only question being when.
Questions about Warren’s connection to state Assembly member David Gantt are bound to come up. Some people feel that Gantt already has too much power and influence in Rochester and they’d undoubtedly be nervous about a Gantt protégé in the top job. But there have been concerns about Richards’ background, too. Richards comes from the corporate world and some people initially questioned whether he truly understood the poverty affecting Rochester’s inner city; they worried he’d lean in favor of business interests. This election could turn on whether Richards has done enough to dispel that perception.
Anyway, I’m betting that Warren’s announcement smokes out other wannabes and finally gets Richards off the fence.