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A few items gathered along the increasingly torrid campaign trail:

Quinn/Pordum race heats up: Some of Erie County's most astute election watchers are taking notice of Congressman Jack Quinn's newest round of television advertising -- the ones featuring Mr. and Mrs. Jack Quinn Sr.

Some are calling Quinn's new ads "defensive" as they respond to Democratic challenger Fran Pordum's main gripe: that the congressman voted to "cut" Medicare. They note that Pordum's hard-charging campaign is hitting home hard enough to spark a Quinn response.

Not exactly a desperation move, mind you. Nobody on the Pordum team is yet claiming their guy is winning. But it could be a sign that Quinn/Pordum still ranks as one of New York State's hottest races.

Quinn sighs relief: One of the most ominous developments for the Quinn campaign was the Democratic effort to register 10,000 to 20,000 new black voters -- almost all of whom could be expected to vote Democratic in November.

The effort, which prompted a rare show of unity between East Side leaders Maurice Garner and Deputy Assembly Speaker Art Eve, signed up only about 3,000 new black voters.

Still, the effort may yet produce significant results. The 80 percent turnout goal for the Buffalo and Lackawanna black community remains very much alive. If that lofty goal is realized, Garner and Eve still say the African-American vote could weigh heavily in the Quinn-Pordum race.

Hennessy's back: Welcome back to an old friend who can't shake the political bug. Allegany County native Bill "The Pride of Scio" Hennessy, the one-time state Democratic chairman, is the new upstate coordinator for the Clinton/Gore campaign. Also a former state transportation commissioner and Thruway Authority chairman, Hennessy was a close confidant of former Gov. Mario Cuomo and a chief strategist in Cuomo's 1992 dalliance with the presidency.

New road for Conservatives?: It appears that the Eighth Judicial District's outlying Conservative Party chairmen got their way with the recent nomination of Justice Glenn Morton. The Republican faced stiff opposition from Buffalo City Judge Gene Fahey, who has close Conservative ties. But even more interesting are Fahey's close ties with County Executive Gorski and new Democratic chief Steve Pigeon, who have been known to wield a certain amount of influence in the Erie County Conservative Party.

But Ralph Lorigo, Erie Conservative chairman, said the smaller counties wanted one of their own when it came to the often influential Conservative nod.

"It's a cause with them, and well it should be," Lorigo said, pointing out only three of the district's 26 justices hail from outside Erie County.

The move could also signal a course more independent of Gorski and Pigeon than under former Chairman Billy Delmont.

Political pillow talk: Pat NeMoyer, the U.S. attorney for Western New York, likes to say that his passion for politics extends only to private "discussions" these days now that he holds such a sensitive post. Now he has plenty of opportunity for the "discussions" he enjoys so well -- right in the comfort of his own home. His wife, Elyse, has been elected sergeant-at-arms of the Erie County Democratic Party.

Say it ain't so, Scanoots: That may be what former Mayor Jim Griffin is saying these days after old pal John "Scanoots" Scanlon signed on as a vice chairman of the Democratic Party. Not only did Griffin always take great delight in lambasting anybody even close to a party leader, it's a pretty good bet he's surprised that his one-time chief political operative is helping to preside over a party now nominally run by old nemesis Dennis Gorski.

Familiar faces: If you want to recognize the effects of Erie County's Dem leadership changes, check out the Board of Elections.

Now occupying the top two positions are Gorski ally Larry Adamczyk, and "Grassrootser" Al Thompson. Gayle Cyposs, the City of Tonawanda Democratic chairwoman and Gorski appointee, is the leading contender for the assistant deputy spot.

A few other Gorski-ites have made their way to 134 West Eagle St., including long-time ally Dave Pfaff, who landed an approximately $48,000 annual post as coordinator of statistics and mapping.

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