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Updated: 8:05 PM ET January 29
Jacobs Closer to Poloncarz Challenge

With Democrat Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz enjoying a lingering popularity surge after the November storm, County Clerk Chris Jacobs told Republicans gathered tonight in East Aurora that he is strongly considering a run at Poloncarz. A meeting of Southtowns chairmen heard a confident message from the Clerk, who politely inferred he's the best Republican for the race. After winning 67 percent in his recent re-election, he found support in the room and suggested he would leave the Clerk's office in good hands. Republican County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw is also considering the race, which County GOP chair Nick Langworthy told the Southtowns chairs will surely cost $1 million to win. To the people in the room, Jacobs sounded like a guy gearing up for a tough campaign. 

Updated: 12:00 AM ET December 27
SCOTUS Justice Kennedy Visits Buffalo - Quietly

A little birdie told that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was in Buffalo this month. He was noticed by a town committeeman who saw him at the UB Center for the Arts at a performance of The Nutcracker, the weekend of December 8. This clearly sharp-eyed and public-affairs-minded committeeman (I mean, if you were walking through a crowd, would you recognize a presumably "disrobed" Supreme Court justice?), spotted him prior to the performance, went over, and greeted him--albeit briefly so as not to unduly intrude on his privacy. Justice Kennedy told him he was there to see his granddaughter, who was in the performance. The committeeman also noticed a couple of police (either campus or State police) seated near the justice, who the Atlantic Magazine called "the single most important justice on our deeply divided high court." Justice Kennedy is no stranger to Western New York, having delivered a speech at Chautauqua Institution last year which, as the Atlantic described, no one was permitted to record.

Updated: 12:00 AM ET December 19
Poloncarz & Zellner: Holtz Is Out

ECDC Chairman Jeremy Zellner and County Executive Mark Poloncarz are rumored to have sat down with longtime Cheektowaga Supervisor Mary Holtz to ask her to step aside next year. Despite plans to run, rumor has it she was told that former Republican and current Councilwoman Diane Benczkowski will be the party's candidate. Cheektowaga Dems are in shock and many are regretting giving the reigns of the local party back to ECDC from ousted Chairman Frank Max. 

Updated: 7:00 AM ET December 16
Hardwick Aide Wants $10K

Insiders are wagging that Susan Gregg, the controversial aide to Republican Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick, has informed the legislature that she demands $10,000 for the "mental anguish" she suffered in a recent dustup over GOP leaks. After an internal Republican email was leaked to Democratic county legislators, Majority Leader Joe Lorigo required staff to open their county email accounts for inspection. A search did not prove anyone as the culprit, but it ruled out everyone but - Susan Gregg. Since the email could only have come from her, she was suspended. Stories about her suspension were then leaked from "Republican sources" to the Buffalo News, quoting Hardwick. Gregg is back at work again, apparently stunned that leaking gets you in trouble with your bosses - and wanting taxpayers to pay $10,000 for a lesson she deserved.

Updated: 5:00 AM ET December 16
McCracken BackIn at ECWA

In a September 12 article, "McCracken Fired from Water Authority", we wrote that sources told us former Erie County Legislator Terry McCracken was fired from his job at the Erie County Water Authority as Director of Employee Relations. Apparently this departure was short lived: McCracken was in attendance as the Director of Employee Relations at the November 25th ECWA board meeting. And this time, he's bringing down $97,000 taxpayer dollars. Merry Christmas!

Updated: 3:00 PM ET September 27
Max Out as Cheektowaga Chair?

Jeremy Zellner got the last laugh on Frank Max Saturday at the reorganization meeting of the Town of Cheektowaga Democratic Committee. Zellner, in cahoots with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, blindsided Max with the candidacy of Town Highway Superintendent Mark Wegner and knocked the powerful chairman, Zellner's longtime rival, out of the leadership post. Wegner is now the chairman of the largest town committee in Erie County. 

This is a dramatic turn of events in the ongoing saga of Erie County Democrat infighting. Max, alilgned with former chairman Steve Pigeon, has been at odds with party leadership since the days of former chair Len Lenihan. A vengeful push last week to replace Zellner with activist Mark Manna was held off, as Zellner and his allies defeated his challengers by an even larger margin than when they tried to knock him out in 2012. 

Is this a sign Zellner is consolidating control of the divided Erie County Democrats? That would certainly be sad news for county Republicans, who have romped in recent elections as the Dems squabbled. 

Updated: 12:00 AM ET September 23
Board of Elections Goes to Keane?

With the resignation of Erie County Board of Elections Commissioner Dennis Ward to accept his cross-endorsement for New York State Supreme Court Judge, Democrats are seeking to fill his position. The rumors that the position would be filled by Champ Eve are over - insiders say there's a better offer.

In return for endorsing Jeremy Zellner for Democratic Party Chair, Congressman Brian Higgins was given the choice for Board Commissioner. The popular pol has chosen Michael Keane,  son of former Assemblyman Richard Keane and husband of Orchard Park Town Judge Lynn Wessel Keane.

Champ Eve was given the bragging rights to securing the cross-endorsement for Jeanette Ogden for New York State Supreme Court Judge. He is also expected to receive a raise at the Board of Elections for not mounting a challenge to his new boss. 

Updated: 12:00 AM ET September 21
NYS Supreme Court Cross Endorsements In

With five New York State Supreme Court seats up for election, insiders have expected a cross endorsement deal to be announced for two to four candidates. As expected, the news came today: The Erie County Republican and Democratic parties will cross endorse State Supreme Court Justice Donna M. Siwek, Buffalo City Judge E. Jeannette Ogden, GOP attorney Paul B. Wojtaszek, and Democrat election commissioner Dennis Ward. Wearing the label of both major parties, the four are highly likely to be elected.

This leaves a fifth seat up for grabs, and plenty of qualified candidates to fill it. With a six figure-plus cost attached to running a competitive State Supreme Court race, it's a big investment for slim pickings.

Updated: 7:00 AM ET September 15
Zellner in for a Rough Week

Political insiders expect a very long week for Erie County Democratic Committee chair Jeremy Zellner. According to reliable sources, Cuomo representatives at the NYS Democratic Committee were working overtime this weekend burning up phone lines to derail Zellner's control of the 8th Supreme Court Judicial Convention on September 22nd.  

Zellner, who is up for re-election on Saturday, is known to be pushing hard for a cross endorsement for Erie County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dennis Ward - this despite many highly qualified candidates actually campaigning for the office. Rumor has it Zellner aspires to succeed Ward as Commissioner while serving as County Chairman.

NYS Democrat officials are alleging misuse of funds Zellner solicited from judicial candidates in last week's Independence Party Primary, saying Zellner either kept the money for Party coffers or diverted it to the campaign of failed senate candidate Betty Jean Grant.  

Team Cuomo wants no cross endorsements with Republicans for Supreme Court. As always, they take no prisoners and get what they want. If insiders are correct, this week is going to be a very bumpy ride for Chairman Zellner.

Updated: 1:00 PM ET September 12
McCracken Fired from Water Authority

Sources say former Erie County Legislator Terry McCracken was fired yesterday from his job at the Erie County Water Authority as Director of Employee Relations. 

Just three weeks ago, Democrat McCracken resigned his patronage position as the Recreation Director in the Town of Lancaster to accept the $96,700 per year gig at the Water Authority - a big jump in pay. It is unclear whether or not his prior job remains available and if he will return. Sources say the town is in talks with Peter Jerebko, the current ECC Athletic Director, to assume the Recreation Director position.

Insiders say the Erie County Department of Personnel notified Water Authority leadership that McCracken did not meet the civil service requirements for the job. There are competing rumors for why the Water Authority really let McCracken go. One version says he lied on his resume and claimed false academic credentials. Another: he was Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner's point man for town committee races on Primary night, and he lost them all to the Pigeon/Max faction, tipping the scales of power away from Zellner. 

With the party re-organizational meeting around the corner, this is not good news for Zellner or County Executive Mark Poloncarz. Such bad news, in fact, that the Water Authority is only giving the press release announcing McCracken's termination to reporters who ask for it.

Updated: 2:00 PM ET July 27
Cuomo Fears WNY Protestors Monday

Governor Andrew Cuomo's Western New York point person, Sam Hoyt, has been calling around this weekend trying to ascertain whether, and to what degree, the Governor may face protests at his Monday morning Buffalo announcement. Also, one invitee we heard from still hasn't received confirmation and details on the announcement, raising the question of whether a last-minute change of venue or timing, perhaps to throw off protesters, might be in the works.

Clearly, the Governor is not above such maneuvers, having famously ducked anti-fracking protesters at last year's state fair by un-cancelling his appearance after protesters cancelled their protest in the wake of his cancellation (got that?). And the Governor's people must be well aware that statewide media will be unusually focused on his Buffalo announcement, given his days of silence in the wake of the New York Times' devastating expose of his interference with his own "independent" corruption commission.

Stay tuned.

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