Friday, August 29, 2014

Race for Democratic party leader gets weird

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 3:27 PM

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren does not want Ken Warner to lead the Monroe County Democratic Committee. She even outlined her opposition in a letter to some party members this week. (Current party chair Joe Morelle is stepping down in September.) 

Warner, who is retiring as executive director of the local construction and building trades group Unicon, is one of three candidates openly seeking the post. In early August, he sent a letter to MCDC members asking for support, and he's attended a few town and city legislative district committee meetings.

Greece Democratic Leader Dave Garretson has also been seeking support from the rank and file, and has visited over a dozen town and city LD committees. Ken Preston, who founded and has led Rochester for Obama, has also said that he's running.

But Warren singled out Warner for reasons that should be obvious. After Warren defeated then-Mayor Tom Richards in a Democratic primary last year, Warner helped lead a campaign for Richards on the Independence Party line. (Clearly, Richards did not win.) Warren says that after other hard-fought mayoral primaries, including those won by former mayors Bill Johnson and Bob Duffy, the party united behind the winner. That didn't happen in her case, she says.

"If he [Warner] had been successful in his divisive sub-campaign, a non-Democratic mayor would be leading our great city," Warren wrote. "So, if our collective goal is party unity, I am asking you not to support him for our next chair."

Warner has played down Warren's opposition. He helped run a campaign against her, so why would he expect her support? he says. 

And he says that he thinks there's room to build on their relationship if he wins. He points to a recent Democrat and Chronicle article, in which Warren says she has a cordial, business-centered relationship with him. 

"Rule 1 in politics is you make friends," Warner says.

But some active Democrats — none wanted to go on the record — say they and other party members they've talked to found Warren's letter odd. It'd be one thing if she came out in favor of a specific candidate, they say. But in this case, she just urged party members not to vote for Warner without offering an alternative.

In fact, party members have been expecting a "mayor's candidate," but Warren and her backers haven't put one forward yet.

"She should have told me who to vote for," one active Democrat, a Warner supporter, told me.

Warren Letter by jmouleatcity

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