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Bob McCarthy: Politics, post-primary

Robert J. McCarthy

Pertinent, post-primary points to ponder:

• A prediction: If Rep. Chris Collins and Democratic challenger Nate McMurray ever agree to debate, it will prove the most anticipated and most covered local face-off since Rick Lazio and Hillary Clinton for the U.S. Senate met at WNED-TV in 2000. That drew reporters from all over the world.

Collins-McMurray may not rank that high, but interest in the unique circumstances surrounding the race for the 27th Congressional District (Collins’ Aug. 8 indictment on insider trading charges) remains intense across the country — even more after the RealClearPolitics website changed its outlook from “leans Republican” to “toss-up.”

• Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and Sen. Rob Ortt found their way to Geneva a few days ago, and it wasn’t for the Seneca Lake Trout Derby. They were hobnobbing at the Ontario County Republican Dinner at the eastern end of the 27th District with an eye toward the future.

At some point, a federal jury may find Collins guilty of the charges facing him. That’s a long way off, and the congressman will still have his day in court. But if he wins in November and leaves office, GOP leaders throughout the district’s eight counties will again pick a candidate for a special election expected to be scheduled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Others will be in the mix. But those guys made sure they’re in it now.

• Give credit to McMurray for jumping into the race when every congressional handicapper labeled it “Solid Republican.” Now he’s getting attention.

Count among his powerful supporters the WNY Area Labor Federation, a consortium of unions able to flex political muscle. Federation President Richard Lipsitz now says area union members are tentatively slated to rally for McMurray at a union hall in the district on Oct. 11.

The commitment means thousands of union workers on call for phone banks, lit drops, and knocking on doors for McMurray.

“Our pledge is to make this the centerpiece of our campaign in 2018,” Lipsitz said.

• Give Collins some credit too — sort of. Before his indictment, even top election lawyers were stumped about replacing a candidate already on the ballot. Those legal minds eventually figured out just about every possible avenue, but it all ranks as useless information after the congressman and his lawyers decided he would remain on the ballot anyway.

Suddenly — a new expertise among GOP election lawyers.

• Assemblyman Erik Bohen made it clear where he stands on the election for governor in his tough Assembly race against Democrat Pat Burke. A natural Democrat, Bohen is running on the Republican line after winning an April special election also with GOP backing.

And a few days ago he appeared with Republican Assemblymen Ray Walter and Dave DiPietro to back GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro in criticizing Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion program and its associated criminal charges. It should be no surprise that Bohen is a Molinaro guy after identifying a strong anti-Cuomo sentiment in the heavily Democratic district, and riding that to a win.

Now the question is whether a much heavier turnout in November will maintain his effort.

• Some Erie County Democrats remain more than miffed at Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and his support of GOP-endorsed Debra Givens in the primary race for County Court. The state Democratic chairman, they fume, even appeared in TV commercials against the endorsed Democrat.

But Brown discovered long ago that he can run his own organization and basically do whatever he pleases.

• For those keeping score at home, it’s good to be Italian-American if running for governor of New York. Of the candidates in the last four elections for governor, only Eliot Spitzer was not Italian. But John Faso, Andrew Cuomo, Carl Paladino, Rob Astorino and Marc Molinaro would feel downright comfortable ordering off the menu at DiTondo’s.

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