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Party feuds and other political tidbits

A few facts for your political plate on this spring Sunday:

• Cheektowaga Democratic Chairman Frank Max was slated to host about 500 (yeah, 500) of his closest friends Saturday morning at the Creekside Banquet Facility for his annual fundraising brunch. The gathering provided a sneak preview of many who are with Max and who aren’t as the party gears up for another divisive contest for the chairmanship this fall.

Max has more than hinted at another run against Chairman Jeremy Zellner, though it remains way too early to say others may yet jump into the fray.

It was also expected that the Creekside event would be crawling with State Supreme Court candidates, since it seems most of the Western New York bar aspires to the bench this year. But it remains to be seen which Democratic leader will have the final say on Supreme Court nominations, which may very well be determined by the contest for chairman just before the judicial nominating conventions.

It’s always comforting to know that our state’s system to nominate judges for its highest trial court depends on the intraparty feuds of local ward leaders, or the cross-endorsement deals hatched behind closed doors by party chairmen.

• Conflicting reports surround a potential Democratic primary for the State Senate seat now held by Republican Mark Grisanti, which could pit North Council Member Joe Golombek against Headquarters favorite Laura Palisano Hackathorn, a Hamburg village trustee.

Some supporters say Golombek continues to seriously investigate a run, and hopes to gain support from Senate Democrats as former Legislature Chairman Chuck Swanick did when he ran unsuccessfully in 2012. The Golombek folks say they expect him to meet with Albany Dems to seek money and polling information – possible prerequisites for his candidacy.

But others with knowledge of the situation say that Zellner’s backing of Hackathorn is OK by the Albany types, that no meeting will occur and that they have no stomach for getting mired in Erie County Democratic infighting once again.

• Speaking of Golombek, local Conservative Party honchos say the Council member has not reached out to discuss a candidacy or – even more importantly – drop by their weekly Saturday breakfast confab at Daisies in Lackawanna. It almost seems that Golombek and the Conservatives loom as a marriage made for each other, given the party’s now celebrated rejection of Republican Grisanti and the Council member’s conservative views on fiscal and social issues.

• Does anybody out Cheektowaga way even care about succeeding Democrat Dennis Gabryszak in the Assembly? Following a flurry of activity surrounding his January departure in the midst of sexual harassment allegations, succession in the Assembly has proven a quiet subject in the Land of the Crabapple. Kristy Mazurek, increasingly active in local politics, continues as the name most discussed.

• Irwin Pastor, the noted Buffalo guy who was the longtime president of the Pepsi-Cola Buffalo Bottling Corp., has joined the politics biz. Pastor won a seat on the Longboat Key Town Commission in Florida last month.

• Those in Congressman Brian Higgins’ camp remain confident their challenges to the designating petitions of Democratic primary challenger Eddie Egriu will succeed. Egriu, meanwhile, charges Higgins staffers with “harassment” of those signing his petitions.

Republican Kathy Weppner, meanwhile, seemed to come alive last week by issuing her first press release with thoughts on combating algae pollution in Lake Erie.

• Quote of the Week comes from Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo, who says it might behoove any Democrat seeking his party’s backing this year to oppose Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s SAFE Act and the “10th point” of the governor’s Women’s Equality Act that would expand abortion rights in New York.

“We’re going to be much more careful in how we attract new candidates,” Lorigo said. “If Democrats want my help, they will have to look along those lines.”