Primary is over, Democratic Party divisions remain

Sep 13, 2017

Monroe County Democratic Committee chair Jamie Romeo
Credit WXXI News file photo

The dust is settling from a contentious three-way primary for Rochester mayor, but questions still remain about the future of the Democratic Party in Monroe County.

Monroe County Democratic Committee chair Jamie Romeo said city voters spoke very clearly Tuesday when they handed incumbent Lovely Warren a landslide victory over challengers James Sheppard and Rachel Barnhart.

Romeo doesn't deny that the race was hard fought.

"And that's a good thing,” she said. “I don't think a hearty primary is a sign of a weakening party; I think it's the sign of a strengthening one. The question is, what do we do with all these voices? There is a role for every person in the Democratic Party."

Romeo wants the candidates who were unsuccessful to stay engaged with the party and support the Democrats who are moving on to the general election.

In her victory speech last night, Warren said Democrats must unite to stand up to the current Republican Presidential administration.

"It is more important now more than ever that we are prepared to carry that bastion of hope here in the city of Rochester. We can only do that if the Democratic Party is strong and united."

One of Warren's challengers in the primary, Rachel Barnhart, isn’t optimistic that the party can heal. She said its future could be determined by Warren herself.

"She has a lot of power and if she wants to use it to create her own city Democratic Party, she can certainly do that,” Barnhart said. “But as far as what’s left, if she doesn’t want to support the process, then I would say the organization is severely crippled.”

Romeo said unifying the party isn't the job of any one single person.

"We want to make sure than anyone who wants to be active can be active and has a seat at the table, and anybody who feels left out, we need to hear why they feel that they've been disenfranchised."

Romeo believes there is a will within the party, both from its leaders and the rank and file members, to work together.