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PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS VIEW PRIMARY LOSS AS SETBACK, NOT DEFEAT

Cheektowaga Progressive Democrats might not have "progressed" much in Tuesday's primary, but its president says the independent club did a lot better than its critics claim and will be a factor in next year's town election.

"We're not taking it as a defeat, we're taking it as a setback; those things happen in politics, and you can't get too high or too low about it," said Frank C. Max Jr. "Our club did not do badly at all."

Max took issue with Cheektowaga Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak's claim that in head-to-head races for the 222-seat Democratic Town Committee, organization candidates scored a 21-seat victory over rivals from the political club.

"We figure their net gain at five or six (seats)," said Max, who estimated Progressive Democrats loyalists still represent about 38 percent of the full committee, down from 41 percent two years ago.

"They try to give the impression they went out and recruited this cross-section of town residents, but the fact remains that an overwhelming number of their people have been and continue to be town employees and their families, people they can control," he said.

"Very few of our people are town employees, and we aren't trying to take control of the committee anyway; we're content to have a base strong enough to show the flag so that when it comes time to endorse candidates, we can say: 'Here are the guys we like, and if you want to tangle with us, we're ready,' " Max said.

The often controversial political leader said the defeat of Council Member William P. Rogowski in his home district is not a measure of either Rogowski's or the independent club's support among rank-and-file Democrats in Cheektowaga.

Voting for political committee members in election districts where the turnout is often less than 100 "is similar to high school elections: Sometimes your homeroom comes out for you, and sometimes they don't," Max said.

Often, the committee races turn on a half-dozen votes or less.

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