Onondaga County GOP rivalries continue past election

Nov 13, 2017

Democrats in Onondaga County are assessing their losses in this year's election. They flipped only one seat in the Onondaga County Legislature, and were beaten by an independent candidate in the Syracuse mayoral race. But issues remain for the Onondaga County Republican Party as well, largely because of feuds between some of its leaders.

At the Onondaga County Republican watch party on election night, the results were a mixed bag. The party's candidate for mayor lost resoundingly, collecting just 2.5 percent of the vote. But the GOP only lost one of 13 seats in the county legislature, enough to retain its supermajority. Republican Party Chair Tom Dadey says that's proof they don't need support from the county's top elected Republican, County Executive Joanie Mahoney.

"I think the Republican Party is very strong in Onondaga County as evidenced by tonight," Dadey said Tuesday. "I wouldn’t characterize Joanie Mahoney as someone who really cares about the Republican Party when she constantly works against the party by endorsing folks like Andrew Cuomo for governor, and she refused to endorse our candidate for mayor Laura Lavine."

The third-term executive has long been at odds with the more conservative wing of her party, fighting with Dadey and County Comptroller Bob Antonacci over a series of policies, including a 2015 vote to approve pay raises for elected officials. The Conservative Party withheld its endorsements this year from some of the Republican legislators who voted for that pay raise and challenged two of them, successfully ousting one.

Mahoney says it's just another sign of opposition from local Republican leaders.

"There’s a desire still by a few people who are a part of that Republican Party hierarchy that want to punish those who work with Joanie Mahoney and it’s unfortunate," Mahoney said. "But we find a way to get the county’s business done."

The rivalry could come to a head in the next few years if Antonacci mounts a primary challenge to Mahoney when she comes up for reelection in 2019.