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Primary's political fallout

Rochester, N.Y. - Will Tom Richards continue to campaign through November? Will Democratic Party Chairman Joe Morelle still hold that job if Lovely Warren is elected Mayor? Will Green Party Candidate Alex White be the next to surprise the community when voters hit the polls?

Those are some of the questions that surface the day after City Council President Lovely Warren stunned many with a convincing 16-percentage-point win over Rochester Mayor Tom Richards in the Democratic Primary.

Lovely's Victory

Despite some polls showing her down by more than 35-points heading into the final week of this primary campaign, Lovely Warren pulled out a surprising landslide victory on Tuesday night and positioned herself as the favorite headed into November.

"I had a whole host of volunteers but I also went to the door myself and asked people for their vote," said Warren of the key to her victory despite noticeably low turnout citywide. "We fought a good race number one, and number two we had a host of volunteers on the street, and number three everybody got an opportunity to vote. Those people that chose to vote and exercise their right to vote they decided and so you cannot complain after the fact and say, 'oh well it's low turnout' I chose to focus on the positive.

In November Warren will occupy the Democratic Party ballot line. Alex White will run on the Green Party line. Mayor Tom Richards will appear on the Working Families Party line and the Independence Party line. Richards has not yet decided whether he will continue to campaign.

"I think that that's Tom's decision," said Warren on Wednesday. "I hope that we'll be able to, as Democrats, bring our party together and bring this city together and join together and lead this city as Democrats."

"I'm not going to run away from the issues and I think that Alex White raises some good issues," said Warren when asked about the possibility of a two person race in November if Richards drops out. "I just believe that I'm the better candidate to lead this city at this time."

Richards was asked again Wednesday if he had decided whether or not to continue his campaign and again explained he needed some time to think about things.

"We just got the results last night and so I have to make a couple of decisions about what I do and I'm going to take my time to do it," said Richards knowing he will appear on those two ballot lines in November regardless of his decision. "I'm already on those lines and I'll stay on them, I'm on them until the end. The question is really whether I actively pursue that in some fashion."

White Calls on Richards to Bow Out

Green Party candidate and business owner Alex White is now in his second run for Rochester Mayor after a respectable third-place showing in a March 2011 Special Election.

In a press conference held at Cobbs Hill Reservoir Wednesday morning, White, with the city skyline in the backdrop, called on Richards to step aside.

"I think it's time, I think we've heard what Tom has to say and it's been rejected by the voters. It's time to give the voters the real choice," said White. "This is kind of wonk-ish but 14,000 voted (in the primary), the general election is likely to have double that amount, I really feel that the concentration on that election disenfranchises many Rochesterians who I feel have a legitimate say in how their city should be run."

White also explained that he was among the few who were not at all surprised by Warren's sizable victory on Tuesday night.

"The voters of Rochester have spoken and they've asked for change and I'm not as surprised as everybody else was because I feel the way that you get a vote is by saying, 'Hi my name is,' and Lovely Warren was out there," White said.

Is Party Chairman's Job in Question?

Monroe County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Morelle was actively behind Mayor Richards' campaign throughout the year. The race became, in some people's opinion, divisive at times. With Warren now the presumptive favorite in November, Chairman Morelle explained this support and that of the county's committee is now behind Warren.

"At the end of the day we trust the judgment of the people and so Lovely Warren is the Democratic Party candidate," said Morelle while also acknowledging his fondness for Richards. "So the Mayor is going to have to make a judgment outside of the Democratic Party as to what he's going to do."

"I think we need to have a couple of days where we just sort of allow everything to just calm down and reasonable people to have conversations about what happens moving forward," continued Morelle. "(The) truth is Democratic Party resources are now going to be largely used in the suburbs where we have contested races."

Morelle is one year into a two-year term as the Monroe County Democratic Committee Chairman. His term expires in September 2014.

Because of how closely the Mayor of Rochester and Democratic Party Chairman work there are many wondering if Morelle will be asked to step down should Warren be elected.

"I think people spend far too much time talking about what the future of the party chair is I have a day job, I'm the Majority Leader of the New York State Assembly so I think I have some things to offer," responded Morelle. "It's not a personal loss. At the end of the day we advance names of people we vet them through a process but at the end of the day voters make the decision and I'm always comfortable with the decision of voters."

Morelle also pointed to his 2005 support of mayoral candidate Wade Norwood who lost to Bob Duffy in the 2005 primary. Duffy and Morelle still enjoy a close working relationship to this day.

"It is very important to have the support of the mayor but you know I do think that people put too much emphasis on it," said Morelle. "What being the party leader really means is to try to encourage people to work together it's raising a lot of resources, it's organizing those resources in a way for your candidates to be successful. You're going to win, you're going to lose but I've worked with Lovely Warren in the past and if she's successful, and I expect that she will be, I think there are plenty of opportunities for us to work together."


Sean Carroll, 13WHAM-TV
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