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Assistant DA Michael Flaherty seeks to succeed Sedita

Michael J. Flaherty Jr., the top assistant to Frank A. Sedita III, wants to succeed his boss as Erie County district attorney, The Buffalo News has learned.

Flaherty informed his staff of approximately 150 early Wednesday that he will seek the office to be vacated on Jan. 1, when Sedita takes office as a newly elected State Supreme Court justice, a source close to the situation said.

As the first assistant district attorney, Flaherty is expected to take over as the county’s interim top prosecutor.

The post will be permanently filled in 2017, following the election of 2016. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo could appoint Flaherty, a Democrat, or someone else as interim district attorney, but he has traditionally expressed preference for voters to fill such vacancies.

Flaherty, 50, has long been mentioned as a successor to Sedita, who was cross-endorsed for Supreme Court by Democrats and Republicans on Monday and is assured of election this November.

Flaherty is a 1987 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and received his law degree from the University at Buffalo Law School in 1990.

He has served in private practice, various clerking capacities to New York State judges, and in the District Attorney’s Office since 1999. He also serves on various boards and organizations.

Other candidates for the district attorney’s post are expected to come forward, but the race may take months to take shape for an election more than a year in the future.

Democrats have held the office for many years and enjoy the advantage of running in presidential years when local party turnout is high.

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com