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Democrats Elect Poloncarz, Clean out Bar at Adam's Mark

Mark Poloncarz celebrates his victory Tuesday night at the Adam's Mark Hotel. (photo by Geoff Kelly)

An hour after the polls closed Tuesday night, prospects looked grim at the Democratic election night party in a ballroom at the Adam’s Mark Hotel.

Not for Mark Poloncarz, whose lead over incumbent Erie County Executive Chris Collins continued to widen throughout the night, ending in a 53 to 47 percent margin by the time the city precincts had been counted. (Turnout in the city seems to have been in the neighborhood of 25 percent, right where an October Siena poll pegged it, and higher than the 21 percent that some pols had suggested was the least Poloncarz needed to win.) No, the crisis was at the bar, which had been ravaged by jubilant Democrats, who drank the place dry. Throughout the campaign, and especially toward the end as the get-out-the-vote effort ramped up, Poloncarz told his supporters that Collins and his team might have money on their side, but the Democrats have people. On Tuesday night, it showed: The party at the Adam’s Mark was crowded, raucous, and thirsty.

Fortunately, there were diversions aplenty even when the beer ran low. Democrats won a narrow majority on the new 11-member Erie County Legislature. Buffalo City Court Judge Sharon LoVallo beat an incumbent Republican, Patricia Maxwell, for Erie County Family Court. The forces of Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Len Lenihan succeeded in electing political neophyte Tim Hogues to the Erie County Legislature, ousting Barbara Miller-Williams, who had ascended to the Legislature’s chair by allying with Collins and caucusing with Republicans.

In all, a good night for Democrats, marred only by the likely loss of Maria Whyte in the race for Erie County Clerk. And an especially good night for Lenihan and his allies, whose election of Hogues is an affront to their intra-party rival, Mayor Byron Brown, who was dragged late and unwillingly to an endorsement of Poloncarz, a Lenihan loyalist. (On Wednesday, Poloncarz told Susan Arbetter of the Capitol Pressroom, “I was going to win this with or without the mayor.”) Lenihan incurred the wrath of the state Democratic Party by failing resign this summer, in accord with what was supposed to be a peace deal between fractious local Democrats. Now it looks as if Lenihan will be able to choose the date of his retirement.

> Geoff Kelly

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