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DAVIS CONTINUING JOBS CRUSADE

Jack Davis isn't going away.

The Democratic congressional candidate from Akron gave GOP powerhouse Tom Reynolds a tough fight on Election Day. And while his 56 to 42 percent loss classifies as an official landslide, he is not politically buried.

"I'm still on this mission to save American jobs, farms and industries," he said last week.

Davis, the Republican-turned-Democrat industrialist, has not disbanded his campaign office in Akron. Aides Bill Pauly and Curtis Ellis remain on the payroll, and Davis was busy last week dispatching press releases on -- of all things -- Erie County's budget problems.

That's because for Davis, it all comes down to jobs.

"Cities across the state, and even the state itself, are running in the red because citizens who don't have jobs and companies that aren't in business don't pay taxes," he said. "The solution to the deficits is putting people back to work."

As a result, Davis has started an organization called Save American Jobs. Right now, he doesn't know what form it will take -- political action committee, 527 group, or nonprofit. But once the lawyers get it running, Davis envisions spending money to spread his protectionist policies in the same way as dropping $1.2 million of his own money in his unsuccessful run at Reynolds.

That's what proved interesting about Davis. His 2004 efforts really were directed at furthering his anti-free-trade theories more than becoming a congressman. He was willing to spend his money and apparently still is.

With enough money to fund a congressional race and anti-free-trade organization apparently still in the bank account, Davis could remain a local force -- and maybe take on Reynolds again.

"I'm not ruling out anything," he said. "I'm only 71."

A long-standing relationship between two cross-state, Irish-American neighborhoods has paid off in the apparent election of Brian Higgins to Congress. The bond began several years ago when Dick Keane of South Buffalo and Joe Crowley of Queens served together in the Assembly and shared a house in Albany.

Since Crowley went to Congress a few years ago, he has established himself as one of the Democrats' top campaigners, helping elect Rep. Tim Bishop from Suffolk County in 2002. This year he lent some of his top staffers -- Chris McCannell and Suzanne Anziska -- to the Higgins effort, and proved instrumental in helping Higgins raise money.

With that kind of success at opposite ends of New York State, it's no wonder several national articles have mentioned Crowley as a contender to succeed Rep. Robert Matsui as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

With County Legislator Mark Schroeder heading to Albany following his election to the Assembly, several people are scrambling to succeed him in County Hall. They include Paul Sullivan, who ran for the Assembly in the primary; Lou Petrucci, a city building inspector and community activist; Mark Poloncarz, an attorney who ran the local Kerry-Edwards campaign, and newcomers Tim Kennedy and Mickey Kearns.

Committee members in the district are expected to recommend a Schroeder replacement in December.

Just to remind you that a 2005 mayoral campaign is already brewing, mayoral hopeful Byron Brown is positively glowing over his election results. The state senator naturally tallied scores like 97 percent in Masten, and 95 percent in Ellicott. But he believes his 76 percent in Niagara and 71 percent in North demonstrate citywide viability in his planned mayoral campaign.

Another mayoral hopeful, Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, is gearing up for action, too. Sources in his camp say he will soon hire a professional fund raiser to begin a push for the kind of financial base necessary for mounting the big campaign of 2005 -- for mayor of Buffalo.

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com