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Mickey Wins

Mickey Kearns celebrates his victory in the special election for the 145th Assembly District with campaign manager Riy Mallahi. (photo by Riy Mallahi)

The Artvoice reporting corps received a memo late last night advising that Mickey Kearns was no longer to be referred to as “South Disctrict Councilman” but rather as “Assemblyman-elect,” pending his taking the oath of his new office.

It was a rout: The unofficial totals showed the Democrat Kearns, running on the Republican and Independence lines in a heavily Democratic district, beating fellow South Buffalonian Chris Fahey, running on the Democratic, Working Families, and Conservative lines, 7,106 votes to 5,357. That’s 14 percentage points.

Just over 15 percent of eligible voters in the 145th Assembly District made it to the polls—anemic, but hardly unusual for a special election.

Here’s a fun math game, the conclusions of which might be totally specious. If you look at voter registration across party line in the 145th District, and assume that the 15 percent turnout holds across prty lines, then one might have expected 6,400 Democrats, 3,000 Republicans, 300 Conservatives, 60 Working Families voters, and 600 Independents to have cast votes on Tuesday. Plus a handful of Greens and minor parties, and 750 unaffiliated voters.

Fahey, the endorsed Democrat, pulled 4,698 votes on the Democratic line, 285 on the Conservative line, and 374 on the Working Families line.

If those registration numbers had held up, Fahey should have won by about 1,000 votes.

Instead, Kearns tooks 5,487 votes on the Republican line and 1,619 votes on the Independence line.


Conservatives are disciplined.

Working Families voters show up on election day: There are only 408 of them registered in the district. Even allowing for Democrats who use the WFP line to protest the party machine, that’s a high turnout, especially in a special election.

Democrats abandoned Fahey to vote for Kearns on the line that was most convenient or offended them least; mostly that meant the Republican line.

In the end, Kearns benefitted from superios name recognition and retail political skills. Fahey is smart, and a terrific guy, but did not have the campaigning acumen he would have needed to overcome Kearns’s advantages.

Who Takes Mickey's Place

So far we’ve heard two names as possible replacements for the South District seat on Buffalo’s Common Council.

The first is Matt Fisher, housing director for the South Buffalo Neighborhood Accountability Center, a position funded until recently through Kearns’s office. Fisher has made a name for himself in the district as a diligent worker, which has helped Kearns politically, too.

The other is Tim Whalen, late of the Erie County Legislature. Whalen, like Fahey, is part of the South Buffalo Democratic camp led by Congressman Brian Higgins, though some daylight may have opened between Whalen and his friends since Whalen was redistricted out of a seat on the Legislature last year. His candidacy is rumored to have been encouraged by Common Council President Rich Fontana of Lovejoy. That’s helpful, because the Council fills the vacancy, after the dsitrict’s Democratic committee members make a recommendation.

There may be a third candidate, too, if Mayor Byron Brown’s faction deides it cannot support Whalen, who abandoned his alliance with Brown’s friend on the Legislature, Barbara Miller-Williams, last summer. The Brown faction is unlikely to support Kearns’s choice, because it is seeking a sixth vote friendly to the mayor.

Speaking of the Mayor

Who else thinks that Brown will mount a primary challenge to Higgins if another Democrat enters the fray?

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