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The Monroe County Democratic Party's bad day at the polls


If the long-awaited results of the June 23 primary released Wednesday revealed anything, it was that the Monroe County Democratic Committee had a bad day at the polls.

Voters resoundingly rejected the party’s endorsed candidates in three closely-watched races.

They didn’t knock the Democratic machine entirely off its axis, but they threw its orbit off course just enough to send the message that the electorate is no pushover to the establishment.

Take the victory of Demond Meeks, for instance.
Demond Meeks has won the Democratic line for the 137th Assembly District. - PHOTO BY GINO FANELLI
  • Demond Meeks has won the Democratic line for the 137th Assembly District.
By winning the Democratic line in the 137th Assembly District, the union organizer effectively ended the party’s control of the seat that for nearly 40 years was held by the party’s patriarch, David Gantt, who died last week.

Gantt, and the party, had thrown its weight behind Meeks’s opponent, Monroe County Legislator Ernest Flagler, whose political career, along with that of the party’s executive director, Brittaney Wells, were influenced by Gantt.

Then there was a Sarah Clark.
  • Sarah Clark

An acting state director for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, she trounced another Monroe County legislator and establishment candidate in Justin Wilcox for the nomination in the 136th Assembly District.

Wilcox had the blessing of the party and one of its most powerful establishment figures in Rep. Joe Morelle.

Finally, there was Assembly member Harry Bronson.

The five-term legislator in the 138th Assembly District wasn’t your average underdog in his race against Alex Yudelson, the chief of staff to Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, to whom Gantt was a father figure.

But Bronson was put on the defensive when he lost the party’s endorsement to Yudelson in a controversial internal election  that prompted cries of nepotism and rule-bending.

Primary voters ultimately favored Bronson, giving him a 15-point edge over his upstart opponent.

All of the candidates — the winners and losers — were worthy opponents of each other, each with resumes of varying lengths of public service. There’s no telling the practical effect had the outcomes of their races been reversed.

But the results were refreshing for anyone tired of the entitlement of the establishment.

At this point in time, here and around the country, that seems to be pretty much everyone.

David Andreatta is CITY's editor. He can be reached at [email protected].