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Final volleys from the big guns

It's getting serious now -- crunch time for one of the most compelling elections of our time.

That's why Democrats, especially, will roll out their big guns over the next few days to bring home their congressional and State Senate candidates.

They've already begun. Rep. Rahm Emmanuel of Illinois jump-started the celebrity binge last week by stumping for congressional candidate Alice Kryzan and starring at a Buffalo fundraiser.

It's his Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that runs those controversial ads against Kryzan opponent Chris Lee describing a "growing nuclear threat" against a backdrop of goose-stepping Chinese soldiers. Their frequency and their ferocity underscore the committee's desire to bag this one after it earlier goofed by backing Democratic primary contender Jon Powers.

Also last week, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo appeared locally on behalf of Joe Mesi, making a serious run against Republican Mike Ranzenhofer and the seat held for generations by the GOP. The state comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, also made his way west last week to campaign for Sen. Bill Stachowski, locked in a tight race with Republican challenger Dennis Delano.

It's a good bet the entire Democratic world wants Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for campaigns around the country -- a guy named Barack Obama among them. But home turf duty calls for the senator this week, and she is tentatively slated to boost local Dems during a Wednesday visit.

Nothing is solidified yet. But the plan now calls for the senator to join Kryzan at a lunch time event on Wednesday, highlight a fund-raising affair for the Erie County Democrats and then join the party's Senate Democratic hopefuls -- Stachowski, Mesi and Kathy Konst (running against incumbent Republican Dale Volker) for an afternoon rally.

Then on Saturday, Democrats are hoping for a Buffalo appearance by Gov. David Paterson.

Republicans? Well, New York Republicans lack anybody with star power these days -- though the GOP may yet try to pass off somebody as such.

And, for the Democrats, that's the point. They own the stars, and they own the numbers. The idea in the last days of this campaign will be to rally the Democratic base -- the same voters who constitute an overwhelming Democratic majority in this area.

The Democrats have the advantage in this crucial week. If they lose it, it won't be for lack of trying.

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*Local supporters of Obama are still glowing over a fundraiser at the Larkin at Exchange Building on Oct. 16 that raised more than $80,000. No major stars at this event, but a substantial amount collected for the campaign just the same.

*There are sad Republicans in Erie County mourning the loss of Mary Rita Miller, a GOP stalwart and longtime party official who died on Oct. 8. She was one of the nice people of local politics who counted just about everyone in the local party as her friend.

*Quote of the Week comes from Chris Collins, then a candidate for county executive and speaking at a WNED-TV debate on Oct. 18, 2007:

"I certainly don't anticipate any need to raise taxes, unlike the Gorski administration that did raise taxes 70 percent during their 12 years.

"I see where we're going to empower county workers, bring efficiency into county government, and by doing that, reduce the cost of county government.

"As we work to rebuild the economy and improve and increase our tax base, we're going to be able to create surpluses that we can use to pay down debt and also provide better services to the taxpayers."

Collins' budget proposes a tax hike that would add $18 annually to the tax bill of a $100,000 house.

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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