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And Speaking of Elections...

Races to watch:

• In the Erie County Legislature’s 9th District, Democrat Mike Schraft is running credible race against a popular incumbent, Independent Lynne Dixon. Schraft has out-fundraised and outworked Dixon thus far; if he manages an upset, he’ll join the 7th District’s Pat Burke (who, as the Democratic nominee, is virtually guaranteed to win on Tuesday) in the Legislature’s Democratic caucus owing no loyalty to any party faction. Add Barbara Miller-Williams to that caucus and there would seem to be a real opportunity to put an end to the state of perpetual war among Erie County Democrats.

Or to make it three times worse. Either way.

• Whatever happens, Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Jeremy Zellner will have to fight hard to keep his job as chief of staff for the Erie County Legislature—validating predictions that a party chair holding such a patronage post would inevitably become a distraction at best and a conflict of interest at worst. Zellner could try to defuse the situation by resigning the post and taking a salary as the Democratic Party chair, as Len Lenihan did before him, but that will be awkward if his Democrats don’t win many glorious victories on Tuesday night. If the Republican incumbents hold on the sheriff’s and the comptroller’s jobs, Zellner’s detractors will declaim loudly that he’s not worth the money.

• And wins by some Democrats won’t help Zellner’s case. If Dick Dobson beats Sheriff Tim Howard, Dobson will not extend a had of gratitude to Democratic headquarters, who opposed him in the primary and helped him little thereafter. The aforementioned Schraft is friendly with headquarters, but he defied party protocol in announcing his intention to pursue the seat without the chairman’s blessing. If incumbent Tom Loughran holds on to his seat on the Legislature, as many think he will, he’s not a reliable ally to Zellner. Burke is completely independent. Miller-Williams is bound to feel hostile toward Zellner but may play nice rather than risk being isolated and powerless.

If Tim Hogues can somehow beat Miller-Williams from the Working Families Party line, that would be a huge win for Zellner. If Wynnie Fisher beats Ted Morton, an many believe she will, that will be a big win for Zellner. If Kevin Gaughan wins, that’s a huge victory for Zellner. He’ll need it.

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