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Pat Burke Enters 7th District Legislature Race

Are you a Democrat? Are you weary of the squabbling between disparate factions of your local party, the contentious primaries calculated to cause political damage rather than contribute to civic discourse? Want to tell all the party leaders—Jeremy Zellner, Frank Max, Rich Horner, the various operatives for the mayor, the county executive, the congressman, whoever—to go take a flying leap?

So does South Buffalo’s Patrick Burke, who declared this week that he is running for the Seventh District seat on the Erie County Legislature. That’s the seat from which Tom Mazur is retiring rather than face a tough primary by his fellow Cheetowagan Rick Zydel, who has the support of Max. In an effort to cheat the Max faction of a victory, Democratic Party headquarters, led by Zellner, has fielded Lynn Dearmyer, also of Cheektowaga, who lost a primary to Mazur in her first foray ito politics in 2009.

Into this proxy war enters Burke, who says he swears allegiance to no party faction. Burke made a similarly independent-minded effort to succeed Mickey Kearns on the Common Council after Kearns joined the New York State Assembly. He failed then because he had little name recognition and even less support among the various Democratic Party machines. The run for Common Council may have helped him with the former problem, and the latter problem he hopes to present as a virtue between now and September.

So far Burke has raised a couple thousand dollars and scored one major endorsement: Buffalo Comptroller Mark Schroeder, who, in supporting Burke, again breaks from the South Buffalo machine that centers on Congressman Brian Higgins and State Senator Tim Kennedy. Burke says Kennedy has declared himself a neutral party in this race, but it’s generally understood that Max expected Kennedy’s supporters would help deliver South Buffalo to Zydel. If he takes South Buffalo instead, Burke reasons, and Zydel and Dearmyer split Cheektowaga and inspire indifference elsewhere in the district, then the race may be his.

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