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COMMENTARY

Bob McCarthy: Magic 8-Ball looks ahead to 2019

Robert J. McCarthy

If you were a good little Baby Boomer in 2018, Santa delivered a Magic 8-Ball for Christmas — just in time for queries about politics in 2019:

• Will County Executive Mark Poloncarz run for a third term this year?

It is decidedly so.

The Democratic incumbent has avoided most controversy, commands a potent political organization, and boasts $400,000 in a campaign treasury likely to reflect much more when finance reports are submitted later this month. His Democrats appear fairly united across Erie County, and Poloncarz is ready to go.

• Do the Republicans have a candidate yet?

Ask again later.

The Erie County GOP feels good about dethroning Poloncarz, but must find a credible candidate. And Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo is itching for a chance to portray the incumbent as “too liberal” and “out of touch” with local voters. So far, however, the parties do not have a challenger.

• What about County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw? Didn’t he all but declare for the seat last summer?

Don’t count on it.

Mychajliw, you recall, said late in 2018 he will not challenge Poloncarz in a major about-face.

• Is Mychajliw instead waiting for a congressional candidacy in case Republican incumbent Chris Collins — under federal indictment for insider trading — leaves office?

It is decidedly so.

The comptroller was at Collins’ side throughout the fall campaign, supporting his political ally while introducing himself throughout the far-flung 27th Congressional District. Other candidates will join the fray should a vacancy occur, but Mychajliw is attempting to establish a front-runner image.

• What about Sen. Chris Jacobs? Wouldn’t the GOP love to field a proven winner against Poloncarz?

Reply hazy, try again.

Indeed, some Republicans are urging Jacobs to go for it. He boasts crossover appeal as a Republican in a Democratic district, is well-known, and can dig deeply into his own pockets to finance an expensive campaign. In addition, Jacobs finds himself in the Senate minority for the first time, making his votes and views largely irrelevant in a Capitol now dominated by Democrats.

The senator and his wife are also expecting their first child at any moment, making the prospect of several days a week in Albany less than appealing.

• What is Jacobs waiting for?

Ask again later.

Baby Jacobs is due this weekend. After the blessed event, expect the senator to make a decision that — one way or another — will prove a huge influence on the race.

• Is Buffalo Comptroller Mark Schroeder’s exit from City Hall to become state motor vehicles commissioner welcomed by Mayor Byron Brown?

As I see it, yes.

Schroeder tried and failed to dislodge Brown from the big office on City Hall’s second floor in 2017. Since then, the mayor and comptroller have been barking at each other at every chance. Now Schroeder will be gone.

• Will the mayor try to run a friendly candidate for comptroller?

Outlook good.

Relations between the mayor and comptroller had deteriorated so badly that Brown was expected to sponsor a Schroeder opponent in the Democratic primary anyway. He may very well follow through.

• With the 2020 campaign for the White House already underway, where will New York’s powerful Democratic Party land with Gov. Andrew Cuomo out of the presidential picture?

Cannot predict now.

With all signs pointing to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand emerging as a candidate, it would seem natural that the Cuomo-controlled party would line up behind the senator from New York. But the governor said last week he likes former Vice President Joe Biden, a longtime friend and ally who delivered a passionate speech at Cuomo’s Democratic State Convention last May.

• Will 2019 shape up as another enthralling year for state and local politics?

You may rely on it.

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