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Big names phone home as voters go to polls Collins-Keane race tops area contests

Expect a blitz of advertising, knocks on your door, maybe even a recorded phone message from former President Bill Clinton as both sides stampede toward the finish line today -- Election Day 2007.

The big contest for county executive pits James P. Keane against Christopher C. Collins in a race that has engaged voters for months. The polls show Collins, the Republican candidate, with a lead, but Democrats are working overtime to get their 120,000 registration advantage to benefit Keane, their nominee.

"If the polls show 18 percent are still undecided, a great many of them are Democrats," said Leonard R. Lenihan, chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party. "Collins has been attacking Keane for months now, and I think the undecided voters will overwhelmingly come home to Jim Keane."

Democrats rolled out their biggest weapon -- the former president -- Monday. His voice will be heard on thousands of recorded phone calls streaming into the homes of county voters.

That followed similar weekend efforts with calls recorded by his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton; Sen. Charles E. Schumer; Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown; Rep. Brian Higgins; former County Executive Dennis T. Gorski; and Margaret Keane, wife of the candidate.

Schumer did his part Monday, appearing at a Cheektowaga rally for campaign volunteers, telling them that polls are not always correct.

Keane also was on the move throughout the county, with at least 19 stops scheduled Monday for his last-minute blitz.

Collins also had scheduled a series of stops, including visits to several Buffalo senior citizen centers with former Mayor James D. Griffin.

Today, he also was scheduled to make telephone calls from his campaign headquarters and to attend a traditional oyster stew dinner held every Election Day in Elma.

James P. Domagalski, chairman of the Erie County Republican Party, pledged to wage the most aggressive get-out-the-vote effort in memory today to bring Collins' GOP base to the voting booth. That followed literature blitzes over the weekend in key towns.

Domagalski says a series of competitive town races in the suburbs will help drive Republican voters to the polls, while others observe that Keane must overcome a lack of general election contests in Buffalo that might depress the Democratic vote in the city.

Collins also has set up his own recorded phone call barrage for today, featuring just his own voice.

Other important races on today's ballot include the contest between Kathleen Courtney Hochul, a Democrat, and William A. O'Loughlin, a Republican, for county clerk; Paul A. Dyster, a Democrat, and Candra C. Thomason, a Republican, for mayor of Niagara Falls; and several candidates competing for Erie County Court and State Supreme Court.

Polls across the state will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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