Results of the Iowa caucus, the first official electoral contest of the 2016 presidential campaign are in, but political leaders from the Greater Olean area are reluctant to place significance on the outcomes.
Mike Brisky, a Republican Cattaraugus County Elections Commissioner, said the Iowa caucus results hold little significance in regards to the presidential race, but added it does show voters are informed.
“I think that it was pretty clear all along that the race in Iowa was going to be tight, and it proved true,” Brisky said. “Voters are paying attention and are making informed choices based on what they’re hearing from candidates.”
In addition, Brisky predicted Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida will continue to be on the rise and other candidates from both parties will drop out as the primary season continues.
Earl McElfresh, a former Republican county legislator, said he thinks it is hard to know how much credibility to give the Iowa caucuses, but he also thought it was a big night for Rubio. McElfresh noted that Rubio’s numbers were almost identical to the top Republican candidates, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and business executve Donald Trump.
“[Rubio] was lost in the shuffle and now he is right back up there,” McElfresh said.
McElfresh, who attended a caucus recently to choose the new leader of the Republican board of elections in Cattaraugus County, said a show of hands at the event matched last night’s Republican results in Iowa.
Robert C. Keis, Cattaraugus County Republican Committee chairman, said he was expecting a victory from Trump and was surprised that Cruz won. He also said he thought Rubio did very well.
John Padlo, a DemocraticCattaraugus County legislator for the city of Olean, said the results of the Iowa Caucus may not affect the way Western New Yorkers vote.
Although former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just narrowly edged Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in Iowa, Padlo said he thinks Clinton will defeat Sanders by a comfortable margin in New York State, where she formerly served as a U.S. senator. He added people are becoming more interested in learning about Sanders.
Also, Padlo said the Republican winner in New York might not be Cruz.
“As far as Republicans are concerned, I have a funny feeling about Trump," Padlo said. "Cruz is ahead; I don’t know if his message is going to resonate in Western New York as compared to Iowa.”
Keis commented on the Democratic results, saying, “Sanders and Clinton tying shows the Democrats don’t have a good candidate right now, and they are trying to sort out which is the lesser evil of the two.”
Keis said he thinks the campaign may result in a brokered convention, where neither Democratic candidate secures a majority of delegates by the time of the nominating convention.
However, Democrat Dr. J. David Swift disagreed. He said he is very pleased Sanders did so well against Clinton.
Swift had been registered with the Green Party of New York State for many years, but switched to the Democratic Party in October 2015 in order to vote for Sanders in the 2016 primary election. Swift has also hosted events in New York to endorse Sanders.
“I truly feel the Bern and have supported him…and been delighted by his messages since he announced his candidacy last summer,” Swift said.
Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican congressman who represents New York’s 23rd district, said the Iowa caucus simply kicked off the presidential race and the election is far from over.
“Regardless of who came out victorious last night, and who comes out victorious in the following elections, they will be far better than Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or President Obama,” said Amy Hasenberg, spokeswoman for Tom Reed for Congress.
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