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Griffin shouldn't expect Democrats' support

Jimmy Griffin shouldn't count on the endorsement of the Democratic Party if he runs for Erie County executive.

During a radio interview Sunday, the longtime Buffalo mayor revealed that he will decide by mid-May if he is in the race.

Leonard R. Lenihan, the chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party, responded to the news by saying that he doubts Griffin would receive a Democratic endorsement.

"We haven't heard from him, and he hasn't sought out our endorsement," Lenihan said late Sunday. "It's unlikely the Democratic Party would endorse him, but we always respect the mayor. . . . We wish him well."

Lenihan also said county government may be ready for a change.

"To a degree, we're looking for fresh faces," he said. "Maybe someone who's been in office more recently."

This could be the second political comeback of Griffin, the city's longest-tenured mayor, who served from 1978 through 1993. After being elected to the South District Common Council seat in 2004, he resigned 15 months after taking office.

Griffin, 77, was interviewed for about one hour by radio talk show host Kevin Hardwick, a political science professor at Canisius College, during his program on WBEN-AM.

"The more I get into it, the more confident I get," replied Griffin, when asked if he is in the race. "I'm going to make a decision by the middle of May."

Lenihan said a Democratic candidate will be endorsed in early spring and "well before the middle of May." He also added that Griffin has been known to run in the primary election "with or without a party endorsement."

The field of Democratic candidates for county executive so far includes former Deputy County Executive James P. Keane, Legislature Chairwoman Lynn M. Marinelli, West Seneca Supervisor Paul T. Clark and Amherst Council Member Daniel J. Ward.

During the interview, Griffin, a registered Democrat, provided few details about his future plans when Hardwick asked if he was serious or just toying with the idea of being county executive.

"You know. I wouldn't toy with you," Griffin said. "The more I think of it, Kevin, the more I want to get involved."

Lenihan said Griffin should not be taken lightly.

"My overall feeling when he left City Council was that it sounded like he was ending his elected career," Lenihan said. "No one is ever surprised by Griffin. . . . He's a hardworking candidate and obviously he loves the political process and loves the fight."


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