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Republicans stir the pot

These are interesting days to watch New York Republicans in action.

You've got your state chairman -- Ed Cox -- under fire for encouraging a Democrat -- Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy -- to run for governor.

That prompted former Erie County Chairman Bob Davis to accuse Cox of "undermining" Republican Rick Lazio.

You've got your Carl Paladino exhibiting the temerity to upset the GOP apple cart. (Indeed, the nerve of someone from Buffalo running for governor).

Then there's Lazio, who says he has sewn up the Republican nomination with more than two-thirds of the vote, but has no money. Then there's Paladino, again, with $10 million to drop on the race -- but no party support.

On the Senate scene, a bunch of Republicans are finally lining up to take on Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is deemed beatable in the eyes of many political observers. But nobody has ever heard of any of them.

In the crucial State Senate, give credit to Minority Leader Dean Skelos and his operatives. After months of effort, they persuaded Republican Assemblyman Jack Quinn III to pass on a safe seat in the Assembly, give up a shot at Erie County Court and seek a seat now held by a 28-year incumbent in a district with 60,000 more Democrats than Republicans.

Nice work, Dean.

That move now puts even more pressure on Erie County Conservatives, who may very well hold the key to this race. If they ditch incumbent Democrat Bill Stachowski after more than three decades of support (including his County Legislature days) and go with new best friend Quinn, the minor party will have cast a whole new hue to the race.

Some say Stachowski would be pressured to withdraw in favor of Legislator Tim Kennedy, a declared Democrat, or someone more palatable to Chairman Len Lenihan and Democratic Headquarters.

If they "stick with Stack," as many Conservative insiders urge, they will have provided him a major boost.

All of this allows Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo and company to bask in the glow at their weekly Daisies Cafe confab in Lackawanna. Their tiny Conservative tail once again wags the big Republican and Democratic dogs. Only in New York do minor parties wield such influence.

But we're not done. Republicans are offering more high drama as their Erie County chairman -- Jim Domagalski -- seriously weighs a race against Sen. Dale Volker -- dean of the Western New York delegation to Albany. Some stalwart GOP types are aghast that another Republican -- especially the Republican chairman -- would challenge an institution like Volker.

Others say that in this year especially, the fact that Volker is an institution is exactly the reason to take him on. It seems like an anti-incumbent year.

This is not supposed to happen in staid old Republican Land. Unless you had a Joel Giambra stirring things up in the local party (a Democrat, really, don't you know), those things just don't happen.

But they are, and it all occurs just as Republicans everywhere are feeling good about themselves once again. There is talk of substantial GOP gains in Congress and of retaking the State Senate. Meanwhile, every GOP statewide hopeful traipsing through Buffalo hypes Scott Brown's Republican victory in overwhelmingly Democratic Massachusetts.

Republicans should mention Brown. Others like Al D'Amato, George Pataki and Dennis Vacco have shown in recent years that New York Republicans can pull off a Scott Brown, too.

But those New York Republicans all pulled together. These New York Republicans are tripping all over each other -- just like Democrats.


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