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Golombek steps up Senate exploration; Zellner remains uncommitted

   By Robert J. McCarthy

   Democrat Joseph Golombek Jr. addressed the Erie County Democratic Town Chairs Association on Monday night in his most serious demonstration to date of his interest in running against Republican State Sen. Mark J. Grisanti this year.
   The North District Council member, who unsuccessfully ran twice for the Assembly in recent years, made his case before an influential group that will have a significant say in deciding between him and Hamburg Trustee Laura Palisano Hackathorn for the Democratic endorsement.
   In the meantime, Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner said he remains impressed by Hackathorn's campaign effort but is open to hearing more from Golombek following a meeting with him last week.
   "I have not committed to anyone at this point," Zellner said. "Laura is doing a good job, but now that Joe has put his toe in the water, we'll see how it plays out."
   "I think he is definitely serious," he added.
   Zellner said he believes that Sen. Michael Gianaris of Queens, who heads the State Senate's Democratic election efforts, remains strongly committed to Hackathorn. He said some of Golombek's more conservative views on abortion and same-sex marriage could cause concerns among Senate Democrats.
   The chairman said Golombek also fielded "tough questions" during Monday's meeting regarding lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender issues. He said the party will endorse a candidate by late May.