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The Clark-Keane race is close in many ways

      Paul Clark and James Keane are more similar than they might want you to think.

      Both are graduates of Canisius High and Canisius College. Both are well-versed in the ways of government. Both know how the game is played.

      Both sought even higher office than county executive … Congress … and both fell short.

      Both count Bill Clinton among the pols they respect and emulate.

      Neither is the fresh face that party leaders were looking for late in 2006 and early this year, when they felt certain that the county executive's office was within the reach of a Democrat.

      Their prize can still be obtained. But first there's another battering primary for the Democratic faithful.

      Former Buffalo Mayor Jimmy Griffin will be a nagging factor. And then there's Joel Giambra.

      Are voters still outraged by the budget debacle of 2004-05? Keane would like them to be.

     But don't bet on it. Giambra's talking about a no-tax-increase budget for 2008 and a potential surplus for this year.

      Giambra's political career might be over, but the budget "crisis" lacks the gravity of those red-green days from a couple of years back.

      While I haven't seen a poll, I've heard about a few. The percentage of undecideds has fallen from 30 percent to around 10. And the lead, anywhere from 4 to 7 percent, currently belongs to Keane. But don't forget the margin of error.

      Remember, too, no matter what happens Sept. 18, both Clark and Keane are on the ballot in the November election.

--Matt Spina

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