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Brown puts up big numbers

A few political developments to discuss with Mom today:

*Mayor Byron Brown is wearing a big smile these days as the 2013 election year draws closer.

A new poll of 500 registered Buffalo voters conducted by Zeplowitz and Associates shows 65 percent approve and only 22 percent disapprove of his performance.

"He's in pretty darn good shape," pollster Barry Zeplowitz told the Politics Column.

The poll showed Brown scoring huge numbers in his East Side base -- 81 percent in Ellicott, 75 percent in Masten, 71 percent in University and 70 percent in Fillmore. Even in South, where the mayor has encountered problems in the past, 49 percent approve while 40 percent do not.

Former FBI honcho Bernie Tolbert has made rumblings about challenging Brown next year, but these numbers will give pause to anyone coveting the big office on City Hall's second floor.

Oh yes -- another number proves daunting, too. That's the Brown campaign treasury, now at almost $1 million -- with more to come before Election Day '13.

*Attorney Kevin Gaughan, who was quietly exploring a State Senate candidacy against Republican incumbent Mark Grisanti, has just as quietly disappeared from that scene. But the area's top downsizing guru is still eyeing Albany. Knowledgeable sources say Gaughan is discussing a Democratic primary challenge to incumbent Assemblyman Sean Ryan in what could prove a major intra-party mess.

Ryan, unafraid of poking at big institutions like the NFTA, would be sure of the party endorsement. But Gaughan's local downsizing efforts have generated a long list of supporters, many of whom just might hit the streets with his designating petitions.

Gaughan has "discussed" various offices for years, and does not always follow through. But those familiar with his thinking say he craves a pulpit from which to preach his regionalism message, and that the Democratic Assembly would prove ideal.

*The Associated Press reported a few days ago that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will air local TV spots targeting Rep. Kathy Hochul, D-Amherst, slamming her support for President Obama's health care and energy policies.

Hochul's own fundraising is more than healthy. But these days, outside groups spend lots of money, and as we reported two weeks ago, Hochul's own Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has yet to reserve air time for her.

*Is there a more crowded Assembly race than the one to succeed retiring Republican Dan Burling of Warsaw? Five -- count 'em, five -- Republicans are now eyeing the race, with the new interest of Attica Supervisor Doug Patti. He joins David Mariacher of Elma; David DiPietro, former East Aurora mayor; Chris Lane of East Aurora; and Assemblyman Kevin Smardz.

Now add Christina Abt, an Independence member who is talking with Democrats about their line. She is well known from her stint as a commentator on WECK radio. The GOP field is so crowded that Erie County Democratic Chairman Nick Langworthy may very well declare an open primary.

*Reporters weren't allowed in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's big fundraiser at the Hotel @ the Lafayette a few days ago. Heck, Cuomo's handlers wouldn't allow reporters to even see our governor as they hustled him through a back door.

But the Politics Column's spies report Cuomo entered the new Crystal Room escorted by County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Buffalo Bills CEO Russ Brandon. Given the role all three will play in proposals to renovate Ralph Wilson Stadium, Bills fans hope the trio wasn't discussing the weather.