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State Republicans in the grip of political fever

It will all calm down around here come Wednesday morning.

No more presidential candidates barnstorming throughout town. No more national coverage of how voters feel in Buffalo and throughout New York.

No more airwaves touting “Bernie” or “Hillary.” (Will anybody miss that?)

Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican presidential primaries will be history by then, even though this locally rare phenomena will make history just by happening.

Still, the candidacies of Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will not be quite settled Wednesday. Neither will the efforts of Republicans Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or John Kasich. Maybe not until the California primaries on June 7, if then.

And that means that the political process continues, here and around the nation.

Take the Trump campaign, for example. Three major polls last week showed the Manhattan billionaire cleaning up in New York State. If those numbers hold up in all 27 congressional district elections, he will pronounce – in his own inimitable way – that he had a good night.

Even if he stumbles and captures only 85 of the 95 delegates up for grabs, he will still correctly declare Tuesday a “great night.”

With the same congressional-district-by-congressional-district contests set for California’s 172 delegates, watch for the same type of operation there that seems to be working here.

“They’re modeling California after us,” said Michael Caputo, the East Aurora political consultant working with the Trump campaign.

But this election carries far more ramifications than settling the New York primaries. It is also establishing a model for the 2018 election for governor of New York.

It’s no coincidence that Buffalo’s Carl Paladino is serving as Trump’s spokesman, surrogate and “warmup act” at all of the candidate’s New York rallies. Paladino introduced the candidate before tens of thousands in Bethpage, Rochester, Albany and Rome. He will introduce Trump on Monday, too, before more than 19,000 people expected in First Niagara Center – the largest crowd Trump has addressed in New York and the largest indoor gathering of his campaign.

According to insiders, a Paladino-type ally hasn’t appeared in other states.

And Paladino, you recall, has all but declared his candidacy for another gubernatorial run in 2018.

So it only makes sense that the Buffalo developer is now laying groundwork on very fertile turf. Paladino might have started two years ago when he invited Trump to speak at his anti-SAFE Act rally on Albany’s Empire State Plaza. That started a relationship that now offers Trump a built-in defense against any Cruz charges that he’s soft on gun control.

And last week’s massive crowds in every corner of the state – combined with convincing polling numbers – seem to point to where the state GOP is heading.

“I see people I couldn’t motivate before,” Paladino said from the Rome rally a few days ago, claiming he even saw 12 Republican state senators – as “establishment” as you can get – at the Trump rally in Albany’s Times Union Center earlier in the week.

“Now even they’re showing up,” he sniffed.

Indeed, Caputo reports that the state GOP chairmen backing Trump now represent 75 percent of the state’s weighted vote.

Some top-notch Republicans are already making noise about taking on incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo in 2018 – names like John Cahill, Chris Gibson, Rob Astorino, Harry Wilson and Marcus Molinaro. But Paladino is expected to join the mix, too, and it seems he is already plugged into a political fever that, for the moment at least, is gripping New York Republicans.

Any Republican – Trump-backed Paladino included – will face awfully tough odds against Cuomo or another Democrat in deep blue New York.

But even the Democrats will take notice of the New York political climate in which Trump and Paladino now flourish.

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com