In bizarre twist to local politics, Erie County Republicans on Wednesday backed Assemblyman Michael P. Kearns, a Democrat, for county clerk.
The party formally backed Kearns once again after supporting him in three previous Assembly contests on the Democratic, Republican and Conservative lines.
Kearns already gained the Conservative Party backing and is now expected to make a strong bid for winning the election in September by prevailing in the Democratic primary and then appearing unopposed in the November general election.
The move is also expected to further motivate local Democrats in their criticism of the South Buffalo assemblyman, a former South District councilmember and Democratic candidate for mayor. Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner has continuously lambasted Kearns for accepting the GOP line.
The chairman pointed out last month that Kearns lost Democratic backing for the Assembly in 2016 even though he faced no opponent.
“I asked Mickey not to take the Republican endorsement last year because of Donald Trump and all he stood for,” Zellner said then, adding that any effort by Kearns to seek the backing of Democratic leaders this year will be interpreted as a “slap in the face.”
Democrats expressing interest in the vacant post include former Buffalo Board of Education member Janique S. Curry, a close ally of Mayor Byron W. Brown, and Steve Cichon, a former WBEN Radio reporter and news director, who drew early and glowing praise from Zellner.
Zellner, meanwhile, said he continues to field inquiries from Amherst businessman Hormoz Mansouri, who has been close to Democratic headquarters for many years.
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