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Davis on free trade warpath again

Just like everyone else, Akron businessman Jack Davis is saddened over the misfortunes of Lockport's Delphi Corp. plant. We are, after all, talking about 3,800 jobs here.

But if ever economics and politics converged on one nexus, it might be the sprawling plant on Upper Mountain Road. It exemplifies everything Davis preached during his 2004 run against Republican Rep. Tom Reynolds, and it's why Davis dropped some change a few days ago on a full-page ad in The Buffalo News to savage the nation's free trade policies.

Davis doesn't buy the company line that union workers are responsible for the plant's misfortunes. He points to the industry's eagerness to globalize, with dark clouds over Lockport as the result.

"I worked at the Chevy plant in the Town of Tonawanda from 1958 to 1961," said the president of the I Squared R Element Co. "We were well paid then, and everybody got a piece of the action.

"We could afford it now, too, if we didn't have all these Japanese and Chinese products coming," he said. "It all comes back to free trade."

Davis paid for the ad to educate Western New Yorkers about a subject that stood at the center of his one-trick-pony congressional campaign of 2004.

"There's something we can do," he said, "and that's protect our borders."

This is all about much more than endangered auto plants and full-page newspaper ads. Davis spent more than $1 million in his last campaign against Reynolds. He plans to form a committee in January to explore another campaign with the same kind of money.

"Maybe more," he said.

Reynolds has never epitomized the free trader philosophy. He raised questions about some aspects of globalization in 2003 before anyone outside of Akron ever heard of Jack Davis.

But the 3,800 jobs that Davis claims are jeopardized by free trade lie right in the Reynolds district. If he runs, he'll make an issue of it, and Reynolds will prove the whipping boy.

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* Speaking of potential candidates, Rick's Tally-Ho owner Rick Snowden will commission a poll in early 2006 to explore a 2007 run for county executive. He knows that few people beyond his Nottingham Road neighborhood recognize his name, so the poll will hinge on one question: Would it affect your vote if the 2007 candidate for county executive owned a string of strip clubs? Republican Snowden's query may not be quite so direct, but he knows it must be asked.

"I'm a good businessman who knows how to turn around a business," he said, pointing to his three wildly successful establishments. "They are respectably run properties, and I try to do good in the community." The poll will directly determine whether a man seeking to become part of the community through charitable and civic activities can be accepted politically.

Snowden, by the way, has all but ruled out competing for Mayor-elect Byron Brown's Senate seat in the upcoming special election, despite encouragement from Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno during an Albany meeting a few days ago.

* Brown, meanwhile, amazed the local political world by raising $1 million in his just-concluded campaign, even after Mayor Tony Masiello accumulated a similar amount while still in his re-election mode.

But Brown didn't get elected by being shy and won't be re-elected by being shy. Ducats for his holiday reception at D'Arcy McGee's on Thursday run $100 each -- enough to replenish the kitty for whatever lies ahead.

* Former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso of Kinderhook has signed up Lancaster native Michael Hook for his fledgling campaign for governor. Hook is a campaign biz veteran with major figures like Reynolds and former Rep. Bill Paxon, and his presence signals a big time Faso effort.

* Quote of the week comes from Deputy County Executive Bruce Fisher after the County Legislature nixed his appointment to the county library board: "I don't even have any overdue books."

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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