Glenn Choolokian came within 63 votes of sending two-term mayor Paul Dyster packing in the recent Democratic primary. Although the sitting councilman lost the race by a razor thin margin he has no intention of going away. In fact he’s a declared write-in candidate for mayor.
This turn of political events prompts one question: can he possibly win a write-in campaign?
The short answer is yes, it’s possible. But the real answer is a more nuanced: It’s a long shot for a candidate to win a write-in campaign. People have won write-in campaigns from school boards to town halls to presidential primaries. It’s rare, but it’s been done.
Political trivia: John F. Kennedy won the 1960 Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Democratic presidential primaries with 183,073 and 91,607 respective write-ins. Franklin Roosevelt won the 1940 New Jersey presidential primary with 37,278 write-ins. Richard Nixon won the 1960 Massachusetts Republican primary with 53,164 write-ins.
If the Glenn Choolokian write-in effort succeeds it will truly be a case of local political history being made. And when one considers how unpredictable and out of whack with the rest of the political world Niagara Falls appears to be, what better race for this to occur in than the mayor race?
People are trying to predict which campaign - Accardo or Dyster - will be damaged by Choolokian’s plan. We believe no one yet knows who may be “damaged.” History demonstrates that write-ins don’t generate many votes. And Choolokian staying in the race isn’t like Francine DelMonte staying the assembly race several years ago because even though she lost the Democratic primary to John Accardo she still held a minor line in the general election. Political observers, to this day, blame DelMonte’s staying in the race for Accardo’s loss to Ceretto.
Choolokian lost the recent Democratic primary to Dyster by 63 votes, but – BUT – he is a write-in candidate and the voters will not find his name on the ballot on any party line. His name will have to be written in by each voter.
The Niagara County Republican Committee conducts many voter surveys. And if they haven’t already done so they have to immediately locate 250 primary voters that selected Choolkian. They must ask those voters: “You voted for Choolkian in the primary, whom will you vote for in the general election?”
The surveyed voter can answer one of three ways: 1) I’m writing Choolokian in 2) I like Glenn but as a Democrat I have to blindly stick with primary winner Paul Dyster 3) I think the world of Glenn Choolkian but I have to go with Accardo in order to save the city and move Dyster out of city hall. The survey results will reveal where Choolokian’s 2000+ primary votes can be expected to go.
The second survey the Republicans want to conduct is a general survey of Democratic and Republican voters with one question asked: “Who do you prefer in the race for mayor: Accardo, Choolokian or Dyster?”
Let’s review: A) find out where Glenn Choolokian’s primary votes are going B) find out which mayor candidate is preferred by Democratic and Republican voters.
The Reporter understands that Mayor Dyster is quite distressed to see Choolokian remain in the race. The mayor has no one to blame but himself…himself and his friends and supporters on the city and county Democratic Party committees. For no less than eight years these committees have run a closed shop that works on the principal of “our way or the highway.” Historically the Democratic Party has been the party of equality, new ideas, and fresh, hard working candidates welcomed to the political process with open arms.
That’s no longer the case. Paul Dyster and his cronies operate as if they own the party. Dyster is actually, truly, insulted to find someone – anyone – with nerve to challenge him, or his fellow Democratic travelers, for any elected office.