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Griffin says he may run again Ex-mayor could seek county executive job

Jimmy Griffin is pondering another political comeback, confirming Friday that he might run for Erie County executive.

The city's longest-tenured mayor told The Buffalo News he is mulling a run for the county's top elective post.

"That's something that's down the line," said Griffin, now 77. Does that mean he's considering running?

"Yes. Happy New Year," Griffin responded as he hung up the phone.

If he runs, it won't be the first time Griffin has attempted a political comeback.

His most recent return was short-lived. After being elected to the South District Common Council seat in 2004, he resigned 15 months after taking office.

"There comes a time when you have to walk away, and my time has come," Griffin told Council members in his March 2005 resignation letter.

The chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party expressed surprise that Griffin, a registered Democrat, is considering a run.

"When he left the Council, he seemed to be saying goodbye to his elective career," said Len Lenihan. "Then again, maybe I'm not too surprised, because he has run for numerous offices in the past."

Lenihan wouldn't comment on whether his party would consider endorsing Griffin. While the former mayor is an enrolled Democrat, his relationship with the party has been stormy over the decades.

Erie County Republican Chairman James P. Domagalski said he respects Griffin and thinks he was a good mayor, but added there's "no chance" his organization would endorse Griffin.

"But I think [Griffin] would make a formidable candidate should he choose to run," Domagalski said.

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, who shares Griffin's South Buffalo roots, beat the former mayor in a 1998 State Assembly faceoff. Does Higgins believe Griffin still has a solid political base?

"It's severely diminished, probably more so today than ever," Higgins responded. "But he had 16 years as mayor, and he did a lot of favors for a lot of people."

Higgins also noted that Griffin's "colorful" persona and "plain-speaking approach" have won him admirers.

"He's larger than life in many respects," Higgins said.

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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