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Joel Giambra heads a list of NY 'Republicans for Hillary'

Campaign ’16 is almost over (collective sigh of relief). But in the meantime:

•  Joel Giambra is heading a list of New Yorkers called “Republicans for Hillary.”

“Donald Trump is absolutely crazy,” the former Erie County executive said last week with a statement significantly distancing him from the county’s current GOP leadership.

But Giambra, a former  Democrat, served as a Western New York coordinator for Bill Clinton in 1992 and has never completely strayed from his political roots. That “Giambracrat” term the Politics Column coined many years ago still very much applies.

•  During an early preview of Buffalo’s mayoral contest of 2017, The Buffalo News mentioned the potential candidacy of the Rev. Michael Chapman. As pastor of the influential St. John Baptist Church, his candidacy might have loomed large.

But Board of Elections records indicate Chapman did not change his party affiliation from blank to Democrat by the required Oct. 15 deadline, nixing his ability to compete in the all-important Democratic primary of 2017 and his chances of occupying the big office on City Hall’s second floor.

•  For those keeping score of “significant non-answers” to political questions, note that Gov. Andrew Cuomo tallied some bonus points during a Wednesday visit to Buffalo.

When asked if he will support Democrat Amber Small in the hot 60th Senate District contest against Republican Chris Jacobs, the Democratic governor proved noncommittal – at least for now.

“Just because a person’s a Democrat or Republican, that doesn’t answer that for me,” he said following an event at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. “I work with Democrats. Obviously, I work with Republicans also. We’ve had a Republican Senate in this state for six years, and we’ve gotten great things done. So, really, it’s a case-by-case basis.”

Just a few days earlier, Cuomo endorsed three Long Island Democrats running for the Senate and on Tuesday night appeared at a Senate Democratic Campaign Committee fundraiser in Manhattan. No doubt Small would have appreciated the same treatment.

But the candidate would not tip her hand on the situation either. She did not return a phone call to the Politics Column seeking reaction to the governor’s thoughts.

•  Besides the Jacobs-Small contest, the other race dominating Erie County politics this year was expected to be Democrat John Flynn versus Republican Joe Treanor for district attorney. But it so far has proven a sleeper, waking up a bit only for last Tuesday’s always influential debate at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute and Thursday’s face-off sponsored by The Buffalo News, Channels 2 and 17, and WBFO Radio.

That is about to change. Treanor and the Erie County GOP both launched television ads Thursday, and Flynn is expected to follow suit this week.

Conventional wisdom (where do they hold those conventions, anyway?) holds that Flynn should enjoy all the advantages of heavy presidential turnout in overwhelmingly Democratic Erie County. That’s the way it has always worked here after DA races were reassigned to presidential years back in 1992.

But 2016 is a different kind of year. Republican Donald Trump is expected to enjoy significant support in Erie County. Some seasoned pols say he will win it. So Treanor may benefit.

Today, neither Flynn nor Treanor qualifies for anything near household name status. That means the ad blitz for both candidates over the next 10 days may prove instrumental in sealing this deal.

•  Of all the many Assembly and Senate contests of Western New York this year, there appear to be only two “real” races: Jacobs/Small in the 60th Senate, and Democrat John Ceretto versus Republican Angelo Morinello in the 145th Assembly based in Niagara County.

Next time you run into a reapportionment guru who draws lines for invincible legislative districts, you can extend your sincere thanks.


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