Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Strange bedfellows, indeed

This is for the out-of-towners out there. We've got a political race taking place this summer in Western New York that's a classic. It's a three-way fight for the Democratic nomination for a State Senate position, and the geometry involved is amazing.

Candidate number one is Dan Ward, an Amherst Town Council Member and former Amherst supervisor and candidate for County Executive. In other words, Dan is pretty well known around the area.

Candidate number two is Michele Iannello, who is trying to move up from the Erie County Legislature.

It starts to get interesting here. Iannello is married to Dennis Ward, who is Erie County's Democratic elections commissioner. Ward ... Ward ... that's a familiar name. Oh, right, his brother is the previously mentioned Dan Ward. So Dennis has his wife running against his brother.

Full disclosure: I've known Dennis for almost two decades. I went to his wedding. I've gotten to know his wife a bit over the last few years. I've also spent some time with Dan over the years.

Full disclosure: I've never met the third candidate in the primary, Joe Mesi. He usually is known as Baby Joe Mesi.

Baby Joe looked like he was on his way to the heavyweight championship of the world -- or least to one of the 107 heavyweight championships of the world -- when he suffered a serious brain injury in a bout. That sidelined him for a couple of years, and he still isn't allowed to fight in several jurisdictions. Everyone thought Mesi was still trying to be cleared medically when he threw his hat in the proverbial ring.

Mesi is the only political candidate I know who has admitted to a serious brain injury before running for office. Some might call that a prerequisite. I'm not sure if Mesi is someone who has strong, valid opinions on how to monitor the State Thruway Authority or how to solve the budget crisis, but it shouldn't be fun to find out.

And if Mesi does emerge victorious, he'll become a great trivia question, along with the name of the recent heavyweight champion to play chess (Lennox Lewis) or the only heavyweight champion to go to college (James "Bonecrusher" Smith). "What former heavyweight contender voted for the renewal of a state recycling bill?"

The Bailey household isn't in this district, so we don't have a dog in this hunt. For really exciting drama, though, I'll skip the primary results. Thanksgiving at the Ward household should be much better.

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