When Stefan I. Mychajliw Jr. opted Wednesday against running for Erie County executive this year, he did more than crown Christopher L. Jacobs as the Republican favorite.
In essence, the county comptroller warned that the local GOP faces long odds against incumbent Democrat Mark C. Poloncarz.
And in emphatically endorsing Jacobs, Mychajliw also put him on the spot.
“Chris Jacobs is a man of integrity and would never damage the party like that,” Mychajliw said, addressing the possibility of Jacobs also exiting the field soon.
Jacobs has not announced an intention to run for county executive, but now all of Erie County’s Republican eyes are trained on the county clerk.
Mychajliw’s observations were “an unfortunate thing to say,” Jacobs said Wednesday.
“He’s been aggressively running for the last year, and now he puts it on me,” Jacobs said. “I got a chuckle out of it.”
Jacobs said Wednesday that he is still considering a challenge to Poloncarz but will adhere to his own timetable.
Mychajliw said he will support Jacobs, as he ended weeks of speculation by indicating his recent engagement and other family considerations precludes any shot at the county’s top job this year, even though some close to him were hinting in recently of a primary against Jacobs.
Now local Republicans seem even more eager for the clerk to enter the contest.
And as far as Jacobs’ supporters are concerned, the sooner the better.
“I’m supporting Chris and strongly urging him to run,” County Republican Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy said. “I’m hoping he will make a decision in the next few weeks.”
Jacobs said he will make up his mind in roughly that period, adding that he is still studying the situation.
“I’m just continuing on my path of evaluating it,” he said. “I’m giving it serious consideration and will make a decision shortly.”
The clerk said that he remains in close contact with Langworthy and that Mychajliw’s decision has not altered his schedule.
Even before the comptroller’s departure from the field of potential candidates, Jacobs appeared as the favorite of many party leaders.
Although Mychajliw also brought numerous strengths to a potential candidacy, Jacobs has won two big victories in an overwhelmingly Democratic county, has widespread name recognition, and is viewed as a stronger fundraiser for a countywide race that could cost $1 million.
While Mychajliw has experienced difficulties in raising campaign cash, Jacobs also wins points with his ability to use his own significant resources in an election for county executive.
Any Republican, however, is sure to encounter an uphill situation from the outset, given Poloncarz’s strong poll ratings, lack of significant controversy through his first three-plus years, and surviving the November megasnowstorm with relatively high marks.
Langworthy, meanwhile, said he maintains a “strong bench” of potential candidates if Jacobs, too, decides not to run.
Most often mentioned are Legislators Edward A. Rath III and Raymond W. Walter, both of Amherst, and Hamburg Supervisor Steven J. Walters.