Erie County bosses say no cross-endorsements for judgeships this year, DelMonte bypassed


It appears there will be no bipartisan endorsements for the now two open State Supreme Court seats that will be on the ballot in November in the 8th Judicial District covering the eight counties of Western New York to fill the seats of retiring Justice Joseph Glownia and former Justice John Michalek who resigned from the bench in June after pleading guilty to two bribery related felony charges.

While there were several potential candidates vying for party support just a few weeks ago after Michalek’s resignation opened up a second seat, including highly regarded Niagara Falls attorney John DelMonte, we have learned that four candidates have emerged, two Democrats and two Republicans, who will likely be selected by the judicial nominating conventions next month after the Sept. 13th primary vote. Only one will be from outside Erie County.

It appears the two Democratic judicial selections are Orchard Park Town Judge Lynne Keane and former first assistant Chautauqua County district attorney Grace Hanlon who is now a law clerk to County Judge John Ward, the former DA.

On the Republican side, the two hopefuls for a 14-year State Supreme Court term are Buffalo attorney Mary Slisz who ran in 2014 and Daniel Furlong, the law clerk of retiring Justice Glownia.

“They have all put their credentials out there and are looking for support among the minor parties,” said Conservative Party Chairman Ralph Lorigo.

Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy and Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner will control the major party endorsements at the judicial nominating conventions of the eight counties between Sept. 13 and 26th as Erie County enjoys that status by virtue of weighted voting superiority.

Given the special state grand jury investigation that led to the charges against Justice Michalek and his subsequent guilty plea, the climate was not seen as favorable to a one- for-one cross endorsement, a familiar scenario that has often been criticized for not giving voters an opportunity to decide who will sit on the Supreme Court bench. That won’t be the case this year.

Political insiders expected DelMonte to have a tough time winning the support of Erie County Democrats despite his qualifications

Sources say Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner will never support DelMonte because he believes DelMonte was the leak in discussing the $4,000 contributions Zellner solicited from several judicial candidates in 2014, money that was not used to further their candidacies but for other purposes, according to insiders.

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