|WADE (Times Union photo)|
It looks like there is going to be a good old fashioned battle over the Democratic Party committee seats as petition forms recently handed out did not include the names of Council President Rodney Wiltshire, his wife Jolene, Councilman Ken Zalewski, D-District 5, or Robert Martiniano.
While a committee battle may seem like inside baseball, the fact Rensselaer County Chairman Tom Wade opted to publicly challenge Wiltshire is a precursor to next year’s mayor’s race and, if you take it a step further, control of the Democratic Party.
It’s no secret Wiltshire has higher political ambitions and one of them is mayor should incumbent Mayor Lou Rosamilia opt not to run for another term. I’m still of the belief Rosamilia will not run again so that opens the door for Wiltshire – a door Wade would just as soon slam shut.
Wiltshire alienated the party proper by accepting the Independence Party line last year, which helped him knock Councilwoman Lynn Kopka – a Wade loyalist - out of the presidency. He is also upset the apple cart by killing a deal, backed by Rosamilia, to sell the former Scolite site to R.J. Valente and by spearheading the investigation into two demolition projects and other workings of the administration.
In other words, Wiltshire is not Wade’s top pick to replace Rosamilia as the county’s most high profile Democrat. In fact, he’s not even on Wade’s list to remain a committeeman and as such I don’t see any way Wade can back him for another run at Council.
But all that may not matter to Wiltshire. Given the small number of petition signatures needed to get on a committee ballot to force a primary and the small number of voters needed to win the seat in the election the Wiltshires and Zalewski could still win their committee seats and that sets the stage for another coup. Plus, Wiltshire is making quite a name for himself as president and may not need Wade’s support for anything – at least he must not think so.
But, Wade is a shrewd politician and successfully fought off M. Lynne Mahoney, his co-chair at the time, to win the chairmanship more than a few years ago and then fought off a spirited coup two years ago by Robert “Rabbit” Riley – a coup backed by Wiltshire and Zalewski.
Safe to say, Wade knows how to count.
As an aside, Martiniano is a member of the “Delusional Bunch.” A group of Democrats Wade nicknamed by Wade who were also in Riley’s camp two years ago and while they are somewhat disorganized they are still Democrats.
But, for Wade to take on the sitting Council president and one of the most popular councilman the Democrats have is unprecedented. (Zalewski is term limited out but was elected four times and I can’t remember the last time he had a serious opponent.)
More on this, like who Wade is running in the primaries against the Wiltshires and Zalewski and how the committee process works, later today.