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Joe Mesi

Joe Mesi lands $70K job with State Senate

By Howard B. Owens

You all remember Joe Mesi: The former boxer who lost his bid for the 61st State Senate seat now held by Mike Ranzenhofer.

It turns out, he came out of the election OK, according to the Buffalo News.

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith is handing Mesi a new job for him that pays $70,000 a year and will provide Mesi with a staff of up to 10 people.

“It will serve as a liaison for the majority leader with the local community, working with local community groups,” Shafran said. “It’s another mechanism of community outreach to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the broader community.”

The spokesman for Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith of Queens said the office will serve a different function than a previous operation maintained by Senate Republicans when they held the majority. While the GOP version centered around communications, Shafran said Democrats plan to make it a more representative presence of the majority conference in the community.

Well good for Joe that he made some friends in Albany, but how necessary is it for the Senate Majority office to have a community outreach office in Buffalo? Aren't there already elected representatives there to handle constituent issues?

SD-61: Joe Mesi Talks To Voters In Batavia

By Robert Harding

If you had to pick a race statewide that could determine what party has the majority in the New York State Senate, look no further than the 61st Senate District. Democratic candidate Joe Mesi is taking on Republican Mike Ranzenhofer in a very close and hotly contested race.

Tonight, Mesi held a gathering in Batavia. At left it was I encountered when I pulled up to park for the event. What I didn't get on camera was the half-dozen Ranzenhofer supporters that decided they would stand in front of the event's venue - Main Street Cafe - holding Ranzenhofer signs. Apparently they decided that since the Democrats had been doing it for awhile in front of their headquarters, they would do it on the eve of the election.

But inside the event was a great atmosphere. At its peak, the event had 40-50 people. There were people of all ages in attendance for pizza, mingling with Mesi and a nice enjoyable evening before Election Day.

Mesi also addressed the crowd. You can hear the bulk of his remarks in this video:  

I remember first meeting Joe Mesi. That was nearly seven months ago. You could tell then that he was still learning. He was educating himself about the important issues and told the story that led to his candidacy. His brother lost his job at American Axle and that motivated Mesi to run for office.

Since my interview with Mesi, he has evolved into quite a candidate. His Plan for Change is pure genius. I say that because he put his platform into an easy-to-read booklet that was available at his campaign headquarters and handed out tonight at the gathering. Candidates usually use basic talking points on the stump or ramble on about what their policy positions are. Instead of doing that, Mesi decided to put his plans and his positions on paper for the world to see. That way, if there are any questions about where he stands, you can refer to the booklet.

So why should the people of the 61st Senate District elect Joe Mesi their state senator? Mesi is genuine. He truly cares about Western New York. This is where he built his life. This is where he became a heavyweight boxer. This is where he became a local star. And this is where he wants to stay, raise his own family and better the region that has given so much to him. He will be a great state senator for Erie and Genesee counties and he will represent them well.

Poll shows Razenhofer leading Mesi

By Howard B. Owens

The Auburn Citizen reports:

In the 61st district in Genesee County and part of Erie County, Republican Michael Razenhofer has overtaken Democrat Joseph "Baby Joe" Mesi for the open seat. Sunday's poll gave Razenhofer a 47-42 lead, with 11 percent undecided. Razenhofer had trailed 38-40 in the September poll, although both margins are within the poll's margin of error so the candidates are in a statistical dead heat.

The seat had long been held by Republicans and was vacant because of a retirement.

Democrats also just received an infusion of cash for these last days of campaigning.

(Updated by Philip at 7:50am): Ranzenhofer released this statement following the announcement of his lead in the poll:

"The Siena poll clearly demonstrates that voters share my concerns about jobs, taxes and spending. They also share my concern about what will happen should the New York City special interests take complete control of state government. Momentum is now on our side."

(Updated by Philip at 8:07am): Interesting, but not at all surprising, Joe Mesi released a similar statement following the poll results claiming that the momentum is on his side:

"With the polls showing a neck-and-neck race, Joe Mesi's campaign is heading into the final 48 hours with a wave of momentum from endorsements by Senator Hillary Clinton and Governor David Paterson. Joe Mesi will be fighting to the finish - talking to families across Western New York - with a marathon 'Countdown to Change' campaign blitz through each of the 17 towns of the Senate District in 17 hours on election eve."

Campaign contributions pile up for 61st Senate District candidates

By Howard B. Owens

The Buffalo News reports that money has been pouring into both campaigns of the hotly contested 61st State Senate District race.

Joe Mesi, the Town of Tonawanda Democrat running to succeed retiring Sen. Mary Lou Rath, a Williamsville Republican, has received about $47,000 in donations the past 10 days or so. His biggest contribution — $9,000 — came from Robert Soros, son of billionaire liberal activist George Soros.

Michael H. Ranzenhofer of Amherst, Mesi’s Republican opponent, brought in $39,000, with big donations from New York City landlords and the National Rifle Association.

Joe Mesi's Plan for Change

By Lorie Longhany

This is an impressive booklet to say the least.  Joe Mesi has put out a very detailed plan for the 61st Senate District.  Job creation, investing in our colleges and property tax reduction are just a few things that he touches on in this 17 page plan for change.

Genesee County DA called on to investigate campaign contributions

By Howard B. Owens

A Republican elections commissioner in Erie County has sent a letter to the Genesee County district attorney asking for a local investigation into Citizens for Fiscal Integrity.

Ralph M. Mohr alleges that:

G. Steven Pigeon laundered thousands of dollars from Buffalo Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano’s political committee and others in an attempt to conceal the origin and circumvent contribution limits, in violation of state election law.


“It has become apparent that the committee operating under the name Citizens for Fiscal Integrity may be participating in a nefarious and deliberate scheme to circumvent the financial reporting requirements of the election law,” Mohr wrote.

Any resulting probe could affect the Democratic campaign of State Senate candidate Joe Mesi, who benefited from Pigeon’s committee. Mohr produced a Responsible New York check signed by Golisano and designated on the memo line for “consulting” in the 61st District primary, in which Golisano supported Mesi.

The Boiling Point

By Daniel Jones

The Republican Party has been taken over by a bunch of kooks"-Barry Goldwater.


Since I was a small child I remember watching with a certain awe the political audacity and committment to which Western New Yorkers, especially in my home county of Genesee, committed themselves to not only political candidates but their ideas as well. Everywhere I went growing up, whether it was in Dunkin Donuts or the grocery store everyone had an opinion around election time. No matter who you were for, you were for someone and you had an opinion on everyone.

Why then, is this predominantly Republican county now registering more Democrats than Republicans? Why are even Republicans coming in our small, rural county committee's office asking for Obama/Biden, Mesi and Kryzan signs?

Perhaps their just not falling for the same old tired talking points anymore, maybe they realize what an aged Barry Goldwater said during the rise of the Religious Right (see above quote)......

We have two major competitive races in our county, one for State Senate and one for Congress. In our State Senate race we have a 20+ year incumbent Erie County legislator, a legislator who was also the biggest proponent of the policies of the Joel Giambra administration. These policies caused a bit of a crisis because Erie County, well, see, they ran out of money. He often quips that he "never voted for a tax increase,". The record shows this is true, however, he bullied those same policies through the Erie County Legislature that caused a fiscal collapse and constituted the need for massive tax increases. What Ranzenhofer is saying, in short, is this...."I caused the problem but I don't want a solution,". Nice, real nice.

On the other hand, in our Congressional race, we have Christopher J. Lee. A nice fellow and a businessman, it's true that his company does have some factories here in Western New York. Even so, his company did have manufacturing facilities in China, a fact that he tried to hide numerous times before being confronted on it during a debate, when finally being backed into a wall, Lee called it a "business policy" with something about assembling being done in China but not manufacturing. Disingenuous much? Politics of parsing on overdrive.

It finally seems that even in a deep red county like Genesee County, people are starting to pull the Democratic lever despite being traditionally Republican for years, that same opinionated attitude may very well be the downfall of a once very dominant rural Western New York Republican base.

Maybe its health care, maybe its education, maybe its the war in Iraq, maybe its the economy.

Or maybe, just maybe, the good and normally Republican voters in Genesee County have had it with the state of their party, because it's been "taken over by a bunch of kooks,"

Ranzenhofer goes on attack in debate — Mesi fires back... in debate, and after

By Philip Anselmo

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!

Mesi Best Candidate for State Senate

By Raelene Christian

 I am writing this letter on behalf of Joe Mesi, candidate for the 61st State Senate.  Many know him as “Baby Joe Mesi”, former heavyweight contender in the world.  I simply know him as Joe Mesi, candidate for State Senate, a man that is looking to make a change for the betterment of Western New York.  Impressions are lasting, and I’m thankful my opportunity to meet him wasn’t based on just the notion of the “famous boxer”, but rather a man that has great humility, integrity, compassion, genuineness, and intellect he clearly demonstrated upon meeting him.  After discussing some of the issues we all face, my impression of Joe Mesi, is a man that truly wants to step into the political ring and do what comes so natural to him, fight.  I believe that Joe will fight for jobs, fight to lower our taxes, fight for universal healthcare that is affordable for all, fight for accountability how our money is spent, and bring fresh and new ideas to Albany.  In order to change Albany, we’re going to need a fighter, someone that won’t back down from the political pressures of any majority, someone that has the stamina to go several rounds if needed, someone that is determined to win, and that would be Joe Mesi.  I believe he will be our voice in Albany, and make the changes “we” so desperately need.  We can’t afford to put in office another yes man, a man that will misrepresent you, a man that might cost you your job and higher taxes.  This year’s election is not about voting Democratic or Republican, but rather about voting about economical sound issues, change, and restoration for all.  With our economy in such distress, it will take a true fighter to restore the true meaning of the “American dream”.  On November 4th, do not vote on your party affiliation, but vote for the person that is truly going to represent you and your family.  Let’s get Albany back on track.  If you really want change, the opportunity is here, vote Joe Mesi!            




Raelene Christian


Ask the candidates (61st Senate District): Mesi and Ranzenhofer

By Philip Anselmo

The Batavian will be welcoming Republican-Independent Mike Ranzenhofer and Democrat Joe Mesi to Batavia next week to answer a few questions in anticipation of the upcoming election. We've got a few we know we would like to ask... but we want to know what you think.

What do you want your candidate to answer?

What are you expecting of the other guy?

If you've got a question you've been itching to ask these candidates, post it here for consideration. We will add the best to our list. Ranzenhofer will be by Monday. Mesi will be in town on Wednesday. Look for the interviews those afternoons.

The Missing Candidate

By Daniel Jones

I attended a candidates forum in Amherst tonight, it was well attended (I would say about 50 people or so) and featured many candidates, including those seeking to represent Genesee County in Congress and the State Senate. Here's the Rundown:

Alice Kryzan: Check

 Joe Mesi: Check

 Mike Ranzenhofer: Check

 Chris Lee: MIA

I can say that Chris Lee's absence did not play well among the crowd tonight. I overheard one woman, who said that she's a life-long Republican, say that she's voting for Kryzan because she felt that Lee didn't care about her vote enough to show up....ouch.....

 I give full credit to the rest of the candidates, even Mike Ranzenhofer (whom I've been very critical of) for at least showing up, without getting into the merits of their issues, they at least came to present themselves. Where in the world is Christopher Lee? *Crickets Chirp*


Genesee County Democratic Committee meet & greet

By Lorie Longhany

Please join the Genesee County Democratic Committee for an open house meet and greet this Thursday, October 16th from 5 - 7 PM at the Democratic headquarters.   The office is located at 10 City Centre (across from Sunny's). We are pleased to welcome all of our 2008 candidates -- with the exception of  the top of our ticket, Senator Barack Obama.

Alice Kryzan -26th Congressional candidate

Joe Mesi - 61st Senate candidate

Phil Jones -147th Assembly District candidate (representing the southern parts of Genesee County)

Judge John Michalek -Incumbent State Supreme Court Justice candidate

Judge Tracey Bannister -State Supreme Court Justice candidate

Judge Larry Stabell -Darien Town Justice candidate

Councilman Tom Stella -LeRoy Town Council candidate

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to come by and meet the Democratic  candidates.    Refreshments will be served.

Obama/Biden lawn signs are now available beginning Monday at our office in the City Centre.  There is a great demand for signs and we will distribute first to our volunteers and folks that have come by and signed up ahead of time and then to the public on a first come first serve basis.

Mesi heavily funded from outside the district

By Howard B. Owens

This may be an indication how serious the Democrats are about winning the 61st Senate District: Candidate Joe Mesi has raised nearly $140,000 from outside-district sources, while getting only not even a fraction of that from within the district ($350).

This, according to the Buffalo News.

Mesi's campaign says the next finance filing, which will cover donations received after Sept. 29, will show a lot more in-district fund raising.

Mesi himself, incredibly and suspiciously, was not available for an interview, according to reporter Tom Precious

Meanwhile, they hit Ranzenhofer with this:

“We’re dismayed Mike Ranzenhofer continues to rely on cash from government contractors seeking subsidies and sweetheart deals,” said Emma Wolfe, a Mesi spokeswoman.

Is this where this once admirably issue-based campaign turns nasty?

When we've written about Mesi, our Democratic readers haven't shown much interest in him. When I talk with people around the district, they also note that Mesi isn't generating much interest in the area.  I wonder why that is? He's a credible candidate, whom state Democrats obviously want to win, with the kind of off-beat bio that can resonate with voters.  Why the big yawn so far?

Has Mesi made any public appearances in Genesee County yet.  My perception, though potentially unfair, is he's been pretty much a no-show around these parts so far.

If you've met Mesi, tell us what you think of him?

Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting that Gov. David Paterson is on a mission to help Democrats win control of the Senate.

Mr. Mesi’s race in particular is considered a must-win for Democrats in their quest for a Senate majority.

“I think four or five months ago, David was not where he is today,” said Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, a Manhattan Democrat. “I think he’s concluded we’re going to win and that he has a better shot at mobilizing the state against the challenges we’re facing with a Democratic Senate.”

Do you think it's good for one party to control all levers of power in Albany? To me, as much as I distrust the two-party system, I'm even more leery of a one-party system.

Here's a new TV commercial from Ranzenhofer (nothing new from Mesi on YouTube):

Ranzenhofer and Mesi square off on tax cut issue

By Howard B. Owens

Mike Ranzenhofer, GOP candidate for the 61st Senate District, wants to cut taxes for you and me.  He announced his plan at the Harvester Center last week.

His opponent, Joe Mesi, tells the Buffalo News his proposal is reckless and vague.

“It’s basically a lot of fluff,” said Joe Mesi, the former professional boxer. “We agree on the need to cut state spending. The difference is, I can tell you where and how. I’m not sure he can.”

Ranzenhofer does offer the means to pay for his tax cut. He wants a mandatory 15 percent across-the-board cut in state spending and says $19 billion in savings would flow from those changes.


His bold proposal prompts the question: Is it credible enough to be taken seriously in Albany?

And how does one lawmaker, especially a freshman who may or may not be in the Senate majority, convince the rest of the State Legislature to cut spending at all state agencies by 15 percent?

“One legislator makes it happen by having the backbone to stand up,” he said. “I also believe my vote will be very important.”

It’s no secret the Ranzenhofer- Mesi race is one of the most pivotal in the state this year. The GOP is eager to maintain control of the Senate — it currently holds a one-seat majority — and Ranzenhofer is running for a seat that historically has been Republican.

At the GOP HQ open house yesterday, the message was Republicans would need to work hard to get Ranzenhofer elected. With a Democrat as governor and the Dems controlling the Assembly, the GOP can't afford to lose this only open Senate seat.  Among other things, the next round of redistricting is at stake.

It could be a tight race. reported this week the campaign filings for each candidate:

—61st District: Joe Mesi, Democratic candidate, raised $140,250, spent $97,044 and had $52,042 on hand. Republican candidate Mike Ranzenhofer raised $67,743, spent $106,299 and had $146,746 on hand.


Top picture is Ranzenhofer, lower is Mesi.

Countdown to the Election - Meet the Candidates

By Lorie Longhany


Normal 0  

The Genesee County Democratic Committee

Cordially invites you to a meet the candidates open house


Alice Kryzan - US Congress

Joe Mesi - State Senate

Phil Jones - Assembly (147th)

Judge John Michalek - State Supreme Court

Tracey Bannister - State Supreme Court

Judge Larry Stabell - Darien Town Justice

Councilman Tom Stella - Le Roy Town Council


GCDC Headquarters

10 City Centre (across from Sunny's)

Thursday    October 16th    5 - 7 PM


free and open to the public

refreshments will be served









Mesi on his victory in the 61st

By Philip Anselmo

Joe Mesi got us his thoughts late last night on the impending victory in the Democratic run for endorsement in the 61st Senate District. Here's what he had to say:

"I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I've never been afraid of hard work. Tonight is about the future of Western New Yorkers, and I'm looking forward to continuing to run a campaign that is about the issues and my ideas. I know we've got a huge fight ahead of us, but the team of grassroots supporters has already been incredible, and I'm looking forward to focusing on the challenges that face our families. That's what this next election in November should be about."

Prepping for the primary... Joe Mesi

By Philip Anselmo

This is the fourth post in our series about the two heated Democrat primary battles that will be decided at the polls Tuesday. Read our earlier post for the full details.

In anticipation of these races, we sent out the same question to all six candidates and asked each to please respond by the end of the day today. We've heard from three so far. We'll publish those and add the others as they come in. We asked the candidates a pretty open-ended two-part question: What are your final thoughts heading into the primary? What would you want the voter to have in mind about you as he or she heads to the polls?

We will publish each one in the order that we received it.

Fourth is Joe Mesi, candidate for the 61st Senate District. Mesi had this to say:

What would you want the voter to have in mind about you as he or she heads to the polls?

Over the last several months, I have had the privilege of talking to thousands of voters about the challenges facing our region. Lower property taxes, job growth, higher education funding, sensible energy alternatives – these are the things that really matter.

From the start, I have run a positive campaign on the issues and my ideas. I have laid out a detailed jobs plan that starts with targeting investments to build on our local strengths and holding IDAs accountable.  It’s time to cut taxes for middle-class families by putting a ceiling on tax rates according to income—because rising property values should not penalize hard-working families. I have talked about the need to invest more in higher education—and the need to stand up to the Republicans and take partisan politics out of issues like stem cell research.

My heart is in Western New York. I grew up here, graduated from college here, and built my career and small business right here. I am running for State Senate because Albany is broken and it is time for new leadership and new energy to turn the state around.

Heading into the primary, what are your final thoughts?

Today is just like any other day—I continue to focus on the challenges facing our families.

It has been a real honor to work alongside hundreds of supporters from all walks of life who keep coming out rain or shine to knock on doors, make phone calls, and write letters to their neighbors.   For these folks in the 61st Senate District, working on this election is about the immense challenges we need to take on – it’s not about politicking or money or patronage jobs.  As we get ready for tomorrow when voters will make their final decisions and head to the polls, the incredible dedication of these Western New Yorkers is certainly on my mind.

Our next post will be from Michele Iannello, candidate for the 61st Senate District.

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