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Bob McCarthy: Who's running as what??

Robert J. McCarthy

Some hot tips for a cold weekend:

• Kevin Stocker, the Kenmore attorney who makes a habit of mattering in local elections, says there’s a “50-50” chance he will run for the State Senate again this year.

That would normally send a shiver down Republican spines. The GOP never warmed up to Stocker and was often forced to confront his challenge to endorsed candidates in primaries
Republican incumbent Chris Jacobs may still have to face Stocker this fall, but not in a primary. Stocker is now a Democrat.

“Can you believe that?” Stocker said a few days ago confirming his switcheroo. “The Democratic Party is just more me.

“Trumpism and all its elected Republican officials stand in silence and don’t condemn what’s being said, and that’s an embarrassment.” he added. “I could no longer refer to myself as an independent Republican. And the party does not fight for the less fortunate.”

Stocker actually won a 2014 Republican primary against then-incumbent Sen. Mark Grisanti. Democrat Marc Panepinto then won the November general election (ushering in the one term Panepinto Era).

Local Democrats are not exactly welcoming their new party member. One Erie County leader said he would be “shocked” if the party backed Stocker, though no other Dem has even hinted at a Jacobs challenge.

Stocker has approached labor, which traditionally dives into the 60th District race with money and manpower, according to sources. The district maintains a healthy Democratic registration advantage, though Jacobs sports more than $300,000 in his treasury – with lots more where that came from.

Still, Stocker may have picked a good year. Amid predictions of a “blue wave” in November, who knows what could happen?

“I remember the Democratic landslide of 1964,” one Dem veteran observed a few days ago. “Walter Mahoney from Buffalo was the Republican majority leader of the Senate and he lost that year. If

Walter Mahoney could lose in a Democratic wave, Chris Jacobs could too.”

• Speaking of waves, Democrats will need a tsunami this year to take out Republican incumbent Chris Collins, who represents the most Republican congressional district in all of New York. Yet five – count ‘em five – Dems have so far lined up to face him in November.

More than 150 people turned out Tuesday night at the Lancaster Opera House to hear the quintet present their platforms. They included attorney Sean Bunny, businessman Nicholas Stankevich, Grand Island Supervisor Nate McMurray, Short Street Photographers owner Joan Elizabeth Seamans, and engineer Tom Casey.

Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner said the eight county leaders of the 27th District want to settle on one candidate. Look for that some time in February.

• Former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra, a candidate for governor this year, is not exactly steamrolling toward the Republican nomination. GOP leaders are offering a cool reception, while Conservative Chairman Mike Long declared “there’s not a dime’s worth of difference” between Giambra and Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo.

Indeed, a Brooklyn meeting between Giambra and Long slated for Wednesday never materialized. Neither man, it seems, saw a dime’s worth of reason. And it should be noted that no Republican has won statewide office without Conservative backing since 1974.

Sources say Giambra is now exploring other minor party lines. He might consult with Tom Golisano, who spent about $93 million on three Independence runs for governor and never garnered more than 14 percent of the vote.

• Democrats are lining up behind Legislator Pat Burke for a spring special election to fill the Assembly seat vacated by Mickey Kearns’s election as county clerk. But Democrat Erik Bohen is eyeing a GOP and Conservative candidacy that worked for Kearns in a 2012 special, though 2018 may prove far different.

Money man and political influencer Carl Paladino says “of course” he will back Bohen.

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