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Can Trump carry Erie County?

A few developments collected along the campaign trail:

• A settled fact of political life around these parts remains that New York will cast its substantial electoral votes for Democrat Hillary Clinton this fall, despite Donald Trump’s early claims that he would sway his home state to actually vote Republican.

But the polls don’t agree, and the absence of both candidates campaigning in the Empire State underscores the expectation that New York will once again land in the Democratic column.

But what about Erie County? Trump has demonstrated strength here in the past, and some knowledgeable pols say he could actually win a place no Republican has claimed since Richard Nixon in 1972.

Now one poll slipped under the Politics Column’s door says a Trump victory is possible this year in Erie County. We’ll consider that the poll does not originate with an impartial entity, but for discussion purposes, it says Trump and Clinton are tied.

One source close to the situation says Trump does well in blue-collar enclaves like Cheektowaga and West Seneca, not so well in Amherst. And the City of Buffalo will undoubtedly remain loyal to Clinton.

None of this makes a particle of difference because New York’s electoral votes are counted in the aggregate. And despite significant Trump strength upstate, New York City’s Democratic voters will again call the shots.

In addition, poll numbers change.

But nobody can deny that even the possibility of Trump’s competitiveness in Erie County ranks as another example of this election year as the wackiest in memory.

• Democrat Amber Small is still relishing her September victory in the Democratic primary for 60th Senate over veteran Al Coppola.

But now she competes in the November contest against Republican Chris Jacobs, who can count on his own significant resources as well as the potential for continued help from Senate Republicans in Albany. That crew sees its Senate majority threatened once again, and Jacobs has loomed as an important element of their victory plan ever since incumbent Democrat Marc Panepinto announced back in March he would not seek a second term.

So far, Small has not attracted big donations from individuals or groups like Albany Democrats. But a few days ago, she expressed hope that the New York State United Teachers union – which spent over $1 million in the district in 2014 – will rally to her cause.

“I have heard financial contributions will be coming,” she said. “I am really proud to have the support of NYSUT.”

Indeed, the candidate’s latest press release seems very much in line with NYSUT goals.

“Smaller class sizes enable teachers to give students the individual attention they need in order to succeed,” she said.

• In case you wonder what retired pols do with leftover campaign funds, former Sen. George Maziarz’s account points to one interesting answer. The onetime Niagara County powerhouse still counts more than $742,000 in his latest report to the state Board of Elections. About $181,000 has been spent on legal fees in the last two years.

The Buffalo News has reported that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman remains interested in the use of about $200,000 from Maziarz’s campaign account, while the former senator has initiated legal action to seek his own accounting.

• Remarkably, Michael Flaherty retains about $112,000 in his campaign account that might have been spent in his close loss to John Flynn during the September Democratic primary for district attorney.

But most of that stems from family loans and could be headed for refunds. Indeed, the latest reports show Flaherty refunded $31,000 to campaign insider Jim Eagan, who early in the effort fronted $40,000 as a loan.

Those loans at one time helped the candidate boast to opponents of a mighty war chest. Now at least some appears headed back to their sources.


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