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Bloomberg gains first WNY supporters in Feroleto, Kulpa

Michael Bloomberg's presidential campaign is beginning to take shape in Western New York.

The Bloomberg campaign announced Sunday that Delaware Council Member Joel Feroleto and Amherst Supervisor Brian J. Kulpa have endorsed the former mayor of New York in his first local show of support.

"His record of success both as mayor of New York City and as a passionate entrepreneur and philanthropist show that he has what it takes to beat Donald Trump," Feroleto said. "Whether it’s tackling tough issues like climate change or prioritizing how we combat the opioid epidemic, Mike will address the hardships facing our communities.

“I represent the two most popular commercial districts in Buffalo that are made up of several hundred small businesses," he added. "Mike is a businessman who has the skills and knows how to fight for us.”

Kulpa, who heads upstate New York's fourth largest municipality and the largest town in Erie County, also said he views the former mayor as the candidate with the best chance of defeating President Trump.

“I’m confident that he has the experience to bring our country together, " he said. "As mayor, Mike helped create nearly half a million new jobs, focusing on investing in education and strengthening the middle class, and he will do the same as president. He knows how to get the job done.”

The developments could prove significant when New York State Democrats vote in the party's presidential primary on April 28. Bloomberg's New York City roots are expected to boost his chances statewide, and the primary could prove pivotal should the race still be close.

Unlike the 2016 presidential contest in which favorite daughter Hillary Clinton secured the support of almost all of the state's Democratic hierarchy, party leaders this year are weighing in across the candidate spectrum. County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz earlier this month joined Assemblyman Patrick B. Burke in supporting Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

But other Democrats like Poloncarz Chief of Staff Jennifer L. Hibit are lining up behind former Vice President Joe Biden, while Cheektowaga Councilmember Brian Nowak is again joining the local effort for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang also has a Western New York support group.

Still, most organization Democrats appear to be waiting for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to announce his decision. He often speaks highly of Biden but has not made an official announcement.

If Cuomo backs Biden, a competitive election could form in New York pitting Cuomo's party forces against the former mayor's strong organization in New York City, not to mention the other candidates in the race and their supporters.

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