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Fallout from the primary

Some thoughts, notes and observations on a fascinating 2009 primary -- and on what lies ahead:

*Give incumbent Byron Brown credit for turning out his East Side base in Tuesday's Democratic primary for mayor. And give challenger Mickey Kearns equal credit for getting his South Buffalo voters to the polls, too.

But lots more voters live in Ellicott, Masten and University than in Kearns' South, and that's why Brown won 63 percent to 37 percent.

*Attorney General Andrew Cuomo made automated phone calls on Brown's behalf just before the election, as did Congressman Brian Higgins, Sen. Antoine Thompson and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples.

Investigations continue to hang over the mayor's head, but if he emerges unscathed (as he insists he will), some speculate Cuomo could again call on Brown's behalf -- this time offering the second spot on the 2010 gubernatorial ticket.

*Independence Party primaries traditionally serve as a sign of things to come around here, and that's why County Executive Chris Collins and Erie County GOP Chairman Jim Domagalski are wearing big smiles this week.

Republican County Legislature candidates Kevin Hardwick, Lynne Dixon and Shelly Schratz -- all recruited by Collins -- won their Independence primaries on Tuesday. Now the GOP is optimistic about November.

Domagalski has said all along that picking off one County Legislature seat would be "progress;" gaining two would send him into "cartwheels." We can only imagine his acrobatics if he takes the three or four he believes are winnable.

*Republican Brian Wirth's big-time victory over incumbent Democrat Tim Wroblewski in the 10th Legislative District's Independence primary shows the Wirth name -- and the memory of his grandmother, the late Assemblywoman Sandra Lee Wirth -- remains a significant factor out West Seneca way.

*Niagara County Republican Chairman Henry Wojtaszek was hoping former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's calls on behalf of his unsuccessful bid for state GOP chairman would do the trick. They didn't, and now Republicans across New York are wondering just what influence Giuliani wields these days.

Other factors were certainly involved, but Giuliani's calls did not ignite the Wojtaszek stampede some predicted.

*New state Chairman Ed Cox, by the way, visits Buffalo this week to start the daunting task of rebuilding the New York GOP. That visit equals the number of non-Giuliani related events tallied in Erie County by his homebody predecessor, Joe Mondello.

Purists are lamenting the failure of Buffalo Republicans to field a mayoral candidate for the first time since the party's founding in the 1850s. But there's a reason.

GOP officials won't say it, but with no mayoral contest to draw overwhelmingly Democratic city voters to the polls in November, countywide Republican candidates like Phil Kadet for comptroller and Tim Howard for sheriff receive an automatic boost.

*Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand ducked talk about next year's election while visiting Niagara Falls last week, even after heavy-hitting allies in Washington nudged out of the race prospective primary opponents like Reps. Steve Israel and Carolyn Maloney.

But that doesn't mean it's over. Suffolk County Legislator Jon Cooper, with roots in the Democratic Party's left wing, remains unhappy with some of Gillibrand's positions. He is in town today talking with several Democratic groups as he ponders a Gillibrand challenge next year.

Jonathan Tasini, who challenged former Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2006 Democratic primary, is also mounting another Senate campaign.

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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