Grisanti's GOP Challenger Seeks WFP Line Too

Grisanti's GOP Challenger Seeks WFP Line Too

Grisanti's GOP Challenger Seeks WFP Line Too
July 21, 2014

It’s no surprise that attorney Kevin Stocker is taking on state Sen. Mark Grisanti in a Republican primary rematch this year.

What is raising eyebrows is Stocker’s simultaneous challenge of the leading Democratic challenger for Grisanti’s seat, Marc Panepinto, for the Working Families Party line.

“I wanted to take power away from the political party bosses and give it back to the working family voters and let them decide who they can trust to fight the corruption in Albany,” Stocker told City & State Monday night.

Stocker’s attempt to land the third party line was previously reported by the blog Politics NY and The Buffalo News.

The Working Families Party’s positions, including a higher minimum wage and passage of the Dream Act, which would provide financial aid for college for young undocumented immigrants, appear to be inconsistent with Stocker’s effort to run as a more conservative alternative to Grisanti, a moderate with an independent streak.

A Senate Republican spokesman was taken aback by Stocker’s bid to win both the GOP and WFP lines.

“What you have here with Mr. Stocker is someone who is attempting to sign on to a party that is pushing for higher taxes, wants to give illegal immigrants the right to vote, and take back the Senate to hand it over to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Democrats,” Scott Reif, the Senate Republican spokesman, said. “It’s just inconceivable.”

Stocker responded that his WFP bid is part of a broader effort to reform the state’s political culture, pointing to investigations into state legislators by the now-defunct Moreland Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s office. He also hinted that his anti-corruption crusade would resonate in his contest against Panepinto, who was convicted of a misdemeanor in 2001 for collecting fraudulent voter petition signatures.

A Senate Democratic spokesman said that Panepinto has a record closely aligned with the WFP's progressive goals.

“Marc helped organize low-wage workers around the nation, and here in New York State, to ensure they received the compensation and respect they deserved,” Mike Murphy, the Senate Democrats’ spokesman, said. “Marc Panepinto is a friend and fighter for middle and working class and that is why they will stand with him and send him to the State Senate in January."

Asked to identify any overlap between the Republican and WFP platforms, Stocker said his candidacy is more about working families than Working Families.

“I haven’t even really looked at what the Working Families platform stands for,” he said. “All I can say is the voters that are registered in the Working Families Party don’t agree with a lot of what I’ve heard is in there. I want to represent hard-working families in Western New York. I’m going to their doors. This primary is going to be based on who do you trust to go fight corruption in Albany.”

Stocker said the he had collected more than 70 petition signatures from WFP voters in the Western New York district, exceeding the 51 required to get on the ballot.

Jon Lentz
is City & State’s former editor-in-chief.