Republican Mike Ranzenhofer and Democrat Joe Mesi squared off on WBEN's Hardline with Hardwick Sunday in the only live debate between the two candidates who are vying to replace the retiring incumbent Mary Lou Rath in the 61st Senate District.
Unfortunately, that debate does not yet seem available online. Did anyone tune in? What was your impression?
The Buffalo News had this to say:
The real focus of the 90-minute debate was Buffalo Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano, who Ranzenhofer accused of illegally campaigning for Mesi through the Responsible New York political committee and its administrator— G. Steven Pigeon.
Ranzenhofer, a veteran member of the County Legislature, said he saw Pigeon and Mesi “joined at the hip” at about 40 campaign events earlier this year before Pigeon, the former Erie County Democratic chairman, signed on as point man for Golisano’s $5 million fund — required by law to be independent of any campaign.
“Steve Pigeon is the single person in charge of the Golisano money. It’s clear that Pigeon is directing the money and the message of the Mesi campaign,” Ranzenhofer said. “As a candidate, you have to know the difference between right and wrong, stand up and say that this is wrong and not take the money.”
Mesi, however, denied that he is participating in anything illegal.
Mesi's campaign sent out a news release the very minute that the debate wrapped up proclaiming: "Mesi Wins Debate!" His camp had this to say:
Mesi outlined his credible plans to lower property taxes and cut down Albany’s bloated budget. He also discussed how he plans to bring good-paying jobs back to Western New York to give our young people more opportunities here at home. ...
The proposals of Mike Ranzenhofer (Mesi’s Republican opponent) were exposed as shallow efforts that would hurt Western New York. Estimates show that Ranzenhofer’s “sledgehammer” budget cuts would take $210 million out of Western New York economy, eliminate 1,607 local jobs and do irreparable damage to our community's strengths, especially our local colleges and research centers.
Had anyone heard Mesi's plans on how to bring jobs back? Nothing specific is mentioned in the news release. In the Buffalo News article, it's said that: "He said he would try to protect workers with necessary jobs and would reform programs like Empire Zones and industrial development agencies to save money instead."
I don't follow here. Not sure what "protect workers with necessary jobs" means. What is a necessary job? How do you protect it? What about people whose jobs are not necessary? Who decides that? Reform of the Empire Zone program and the industrial development agencies to save money sounds like a fine idea, but how? How is money saved? As far as I understand, IDAs are not publicly funded. What would such reform entail?
Ranzenhofer was scheduled to come by The Batavian office this morning for a video interview. Unfortunately, he cancelled. We're doing our best to reschedule. Mesi is due in on Wednesday. We will still take questions to consider asking the candidates, if you have them.
A brief aside: The "sledgehammer" budget cuts comment reminds me of the Saturday Night Live skit—I linked to it in a comment last Friday—that mocked the final presidential debate. In it, the mock Barak Obama says that he will make cuts "with a scalpel not a hatchet," while the mock John McCain vows to use a "scalpel, a hatchet and a magical plunger." Ha!