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Democrats look to recapture Dixon seat in Legislature

Erie County Republicans may pay a price for Lynne M. Dixon’s prospective candidacy for county executive this year as rival Democrats look to reclaim her seat in the County Legislature.

Attorney John Gilmour looms as the favorite for the Democratic nod in the 9th Legislative District when party officials meet to endorse a candidate on Saturday, according to Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner.

He said Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey M. Szymanski and A.J. Verel, a martial arts specialist who is president of the Erie County Judges and Police Executives Conference, will also interview for the candidacy at 10 a.m. at Hoak’s Restaurant in Hamburg.

But Zellner noted that Hamburg Democrats may control the process through the strength of their weighted vote, and that they favor Gilmour.

“We’ll have to see what happens but I think Gilmour has the inside track,” he said.

While a number of political dominoes must still be set in motion, Saturday’s decision could affect the County Legislature as Republicans look to Dixon — the current 9th District legislator — as their possible candidate for county executive against incumbent Democrat Mark C. Poloncarz this fall.

Dixon, a member of the Independence Party who caucuses with Republicans, has been a legislator since 2010. She is a former radio and television reporter who has proven a highly successful vote-getter in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1.

Now Democrats view Dixon’s possible exit from County Hall as an opportunity to reclaim turf they view as their own, and shore up their current majority in the Legislature.

“It’s definitely a Democratic seat and we look forward to working hard to take it,” Zellner said.

Republicans have made no effort to name their candidate for the district as Dixon mulls jumping into the county executive contest. She told The Buffalo News last week she is “weighing her options” about a county executive candidacy, and party officials expect her decision soon since designating petitions begin circulating on Feb. 26.

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