South Council Member Mickey Kearns was slated to gather friends and supporters together in the Irish Center in South Buffalo Friday night, and it won't be practice for St. Patrick's Day.
The prospective mayoral candidate will hold a $25-per-person fund raiser with an eye toward mounting a full-fledged campaign later this year.
"It's sponsored by some supporters who wanted to put on an event for me," Kearns said before the gathering. "It's to show some level of support.
"It's the next step," he added.
Indeed, Kearns is taking several steps toward what is expected to culminate in a challenge to incumbent Democratic Mayor Byron Brown. Kearns has little money, and even his South Buffalo Democratic allies are firmly behind the mayor's re-election effort.
But if he is to have any chance at all in a very uphill battle, the 39-year-old Council member must begin building support at events like this one. He must rally the troops of his South Buffalo base, attract a diverse core of support from all sections of the city -- and most of all -- start raising some money.
That's because Brown is expected to enter the campaign later this year with well over $1 million in hand.
At this point, however, there seems to be no doubt that Kearns is in it, and the Friday event is visible proof.
And so the 2009 campaign for mayor begins.
Do you think challenger Kearns has a chance against an entrenched incumbent like Brown?
-- Robert J. McCarthy