Hamburg native Michael Schraft has formally announced he will run as a Democrat against incumbent Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon. It's a race many consider Quixotic, as Dixon, an Independence Party member, is fairly strong across her district (with the possible exception of Lackawanna). Still, the fresh-faced newcomer seems energetic and optimistic.
And he's a veteran, so he got my attention.
A peek at a recent poll shows Dixon beating Schraft by 35 percent in Hamburg, which is 60 percent of the district and presumably his base. Considering the campaign Dixon will surely run, Schraft will have to raise and spend at least $40,000 to be competitive. That's a heavy lift for a young guy who is a PhD candidate at University of Buffalo.
A Republican Party insider told me Dixon might have had a bigger problem if the Erie County Democratic Committee had recruited someone from Blasdell government or an establishment Dem from Lackawanna. But a complete unknown from Hamburg? Not so much. But I'm hearing Schraft recruited himself, so you gotta like the chutzpah.
For a newcomer, he sure learns quickly. In his remarks last week to a gathering of supporters, Schraft opens like most politicians, saying it will be all about you, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer:
"This race isn't about a Republican or a Democrat, and its not about politics or money. It is about bringing the community together and making solutions to problems that are in the community, and that is why I am here today."
He also learns an early political lesson at his fundraiser: television cameras put at least ten pounds on you. In this case - where he pledged his loyalty to the Working Families Party - he gained several hundred pounds of ugly fat:
"There is one currency in politics, and that currency is loyalty. I promise to always be loyal to the people in this room, the base, the Working Families Party, the Democratic Party and the values that I was raised with."
Not so fast, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer - it's not really about you after all. It's about the Working Families Party, so grab your wallet before they do. If I were managing Dixon's re-election, I'd hang the Working Families platform around Schraft's neck and march him around Hamburg's traffic rotaries to the pillory like a Colonial pickpocket.
Still, this could be an interesting race if Schraft comes up with the funds to compete. Here's his entire remarks, conveniently filmed outside the "Guys" restroom at a local bar - complete with a patron walking through the camera shot, in search of the Working Urinal.
[NOTE: After this story first appeared, Schraft called PoliticsNY.net to talk about it. One comment: he is a really nice guy - and don't be surprised if he raises $40,000 or more.]