Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has designated April 24 for special elections to fill legislative vacancies across New York State, including the 142nd Assembly seat formerly held by newly elected Erie County Clerk Michael P. Kearns.
Most observers see a potential face off between two Democrats – Legislator Patrick B. Burke and Erik T. Bohen, a Buffalo Public Schools teacher considering a Republican-Conservative candidacy. The district maintains a heavy Democratic advantage in registration.
Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner, who is also the county’s Democratic elections commissioner, said he will convene an Executive Committee meeting on Monday to which Burke and Bohen are invited. But he also noted that key Democratic organizations in the district like West Seneca and Orchard Park are lining up behind Burke.
“I would think the rest of the committee will take their lead from the other leaders in the district and make their choice,” Zellner said. “We’ll see.”
Bohen has also been discussing the race with GOP and Conservative leaders, gaining significant union support and raising money. He said Tuesday his main goal remains persuading Democrats at the Monday meeting to back his candidacy.
"That's my goal – preparing for the Democratic interview," he said.
Bohen added he had only "brief conversations" with the Conservatives and GOP, and "nothing is set in stone" regarding their nominations.
Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph C. Lorigo said only Bohen has asked for his party’s nod, and the Conservatives will back a candidate some time in the next few days.
“I’m presuming it will be the one who asked us,” he said.
Erie County Republican Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy would not go that far, indicating only that he has had “conversations” with Bohen.
“There are others involved,” he said, “but we have to start getting serious with the process.”
Bohen comes from a well-known South Buffalo family, and his father, William, maintains wide labor connections as business agent for the Ironworkers union. He could follow a trail first blazed by Kearns in 2012 when he won a special election for the Assembly seat by defeating the endorsed Democrat chosen by party leaders, who select candidates in special elections.
No matter what the outcome, any candidate could run in a Democratic or Republican next September in a primary election.
Cuomo’s order stipulates that parties choose their candidate for the April 24 election by Feb. 15.