Golombek ‘seriously’ eyeing State Senate race - The Buffalo News

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Golombek ‘seriously’ eyeing State Senate race

North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr. sounds much more interested in the State Senate seat held by Republican Mark J. Grisanti than he did just a few weeks ago.

Golombek, a Council member since 1999, said Wednesday he is “seriously looking” at launching a Democratic candidacy, though he would not commit to challenging party headquarters candidate Laura Palisano Hackathorn in a primary.

“I’ve had a wide variety of people contact me because of my background of independence and reform,” he said. “And I’ve always been interested in Albany.”

Indeed, Golombek ran in the Democratic Assembly primaries of 2004 and 2010 against endorsed incumbent Sam Hoyt, losing by only 257 votes in his last effort despite being vastly outspent.

Golombek’s rejuvenated Senate discussion stems from concerns in some Democratic quarters that Hackathorn – a Hamburg village trustee – could encounter problems in name recognition and fundraising. And Golombek has often run against endorsed candidates, including with encouragement from former Democratic Chairman G. Steven Pigeon, who has generally opposed headquarters candidates since leaving the chairmanship in 2002.

Current Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner said Wednesday he will meet with Golombek next week to discuss the race. He described Hackathorn’s candidacy as “full-steam-ahead” and progressing on organization and fundraising.

But he did not offer her a full commitment.

“I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent on anything,” he said. “Could I support Joe Golombek? I would have to see.”

Senate Democrats in Albany, however, remain committed to Hackathorn, according to a source familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified. As a result, it could prove difficult for Golombek to join a process that would include Albany fundraising efforts for Hackathorn in a seat Senate Democrats believe they can reclaim.

In addition, Golombek and his conservative views on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage may not meld with the Senate’s more liberal Democrats. Earlier this year, Senate Democrats emphasized support for Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy over challenger Betty Jean Grant because of his new support for abortion rights.

The 60th District remains in a state of flux for Republicans, too. Attorney Kevin T. Stocker is already campaigning in an effort to challenge Grisanti in the GOP primary, while Legislator Kevin R. Hardwick is also contemplating a challenge.

Grisanti won unanimous backing Tuesday from Republican committee members in the city’s North and Niagara districts.

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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