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SEP 29 - OCT 06, 2015

Can Bilson Upset Grozio in LaSalle?

By Deborah Eddel

SEP 29, 2015

Rob Bilson says he is running for office to help his family.
Mark Grozio with Dem. Chairman Nick Forster

Despite Rob Bilson’s serious demeanor, and his anti-political bickering stance, can this upstart running as a Republican really take down Democrat Mark Grozio in the 3rd Legislative District?

In a word: yes.

The Niagara Falls Reporter has reviewed previous election results, as well as the Sept. 10 primary returns, and Bilson seems to be in striking distance against Grozio, a freshman elected two years ago promising results that, it seems, are largely undelivered.

While Democrats DO enjoy an edge in this district. In fact, based on enrollment, the edge is 2-to-1.  Yet, that hasn’t really transpired here.

In 2009, an upstart named Vincent Sandonato—chairman of the Niagara Falls Republican organization and a prominent organizer in the Republicans’ county organization—managed to score a 200-vote win in a low-turnout election here.

Two years later, Cheree Copelin, Sandonato’s handpicked successor, managed a 300-vote margin in a higher-turnout election.

Copelin would fall by fewer than 300 votes two years later, with lower turnout than her previous race.

In fact, Copelin’s 2011 win seems to be the high-water mark for voter turnout in this district—and that came in a mayoral election year as well. With 3,230 votes cast, Republicans managed to pull off a 10-point win here.

2011, like 2015, also saw a lopsided Democratic primary.

And, like 2011, the Republican-backed candidate managed to capture the Working Families Party line here.  So much for Democratic Chairman Nick Forster’s promise to unite pro-organized labor families behind the Democratic Party.

Bilson now proceeds with a stronger ballot than even Copelin’s 2011 victory.  While Grozio will have the Democratic line, Bilson will be the official candidate of the Republican, Conservative, Working Families, Independence, and Reform parties.

For a top union official—Grozio is the business manager for IBEW Local 237—to lose the Working Families line points to serious vulnerability here, and raises doubts about whether Grozio can get his base out.

Still, this is a heavily Democratic district—and except for the fact that, over the past six years, Republicans have controlled this seat 2/3 of the time, there is nothing that suggests Democrats shouldn’t expect a win.

But that is kind of a big thing, isn’t it?






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