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Robert McCarthy: Brown’s chances, and other tidbits

Pre-primary points to ponder:

• If any past primary inspires mayoral underdogs Mark Schroeder and Betty Jean Grant, it must be Lovely Warren’s surprise victory over incumbent Tom Richards in the 2013 contest for mayor of Rochester.

Richards was leading the then-City Council president 63 to 27 percent in a Siena pre-primary poll, leading most experts to pronounce it all but over. But Warren went on to trounce her opponent 57 to 42 percent on Primary Day to become the Flower City’s first female, and second African-American, mayor.

A Siena poll conducted for Spectrum News almost a month ago in Buffalo shows incumbent Mayor Byron Brown with a similar huge lead – 51 percent compared with 24 percent for Schroeder and 13 percent for Grant.

Siena normally nails its numbers, but in 2013 missed a heavy turnout among African-American Democrats for Warren. Nothing points to a similar situation in Buffalo this year, but Schroeder and Grant have to hope for it.

And by the way, that’s why they have elections.

• Brown started his media campaign last week with some of the slickest mayoral spots ever on Buffalo television. East Aurora consultant Joe Slade White produced the positive ads, which depict Buffalo progress and offer no negativity hinting at a close race.

• When the Politics Column accompanied Schroeder during his door-to-door campaign in the heart of the Masten District last week, not one of the dozen African-American residents interviewed said they would vote for Brown. Hmm.

• Before anyone gets carried away, consider that in 2009 Brown beat another South Buffalonian – Mickey Kearns – 97 to 3 percent in Masten.

• Ultimately, the hopes of each candidate rely on his or her ability to turn out the base vote. Schroeder expresses confidence in the computer-based tracking system his team developed during the campaign and in his door-to-door operation.

“We’re running the greatest social media campaign ever,” he added.

• Give Brown credit for one thing – he knows how to turn out his base. Hillary Clinton might have faced an embarrassing loss of Erie County in the 2016 New York presidential primary if not for the impressive effort of Brown – the state Democratic chairman – in mobilizing the City of Buffalo vote.

• Neither should anybody forget Grant’s abilities. She came within 139 votes of knocking off Sen. Tim Kennedy in the 2013 Democratic primary.

Still, Grant’s inability to raise campaign funds has significantly hampered her efforts against Brown and Schroeder. Her opponents have produced impressive TV ads, while she was forced to rely on true grass roots efforts.

• A suddenly burning question raised by those predicting a Brown victory on Tuesday is whether he will break the magic 50 percent mark. That would prove a true accomplishment against two major league opponents. Then again, anyone aiming for a fourth-term executive position is bound to experience erosion of support. Just ask former County Executive Dennis Gorski, who like former Gov. Mario Cuomo, failed in his bid for a fourth term.

• Speaking of Cuomos, questions surround whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo will make a last-minute Buffalo appearance for Brown, his close ally. Maybe one of those Election Eve rallies staged at St. John Baptist Church in the past?

A Cuomo no-show is almost certain to start political tongues wagging, which usually don’t need much to start wagging. It would seem a given that the governor would be on hand for his hand-picked state Democratic chairman.

• And speaking of Democratic chairmen, Erie County’s Jeremy Zellner faces a few tough races on the local level this year. But the one he really wants – the one he has emphasized for months – is the 2nd Legislative District contest for Grant’s seat. He enthusiastically backs April Baskin against three other candidates – Charley H. Fisher III, Duncan Kirkwood and David Martinez – and anything can happen in a so-far wild and woolly affair.


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