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Flynn Plans Two-Pronged Campaign Team: Strategy/Leadership and Finance

Mike Flaherty, acting DA ready for run (left) and John Flynn, assembling team
Flynn Plans Two-Pronged Campaign Team: Strategy/Leadership and Finance

Fresh from his unanimous endorsement by Democratic Party leaders last Saturday, Tonawanda Town Attorney John Flynn is chomping at the bit to get started on his pri- mary campaign for Erie County district attor- ney against Acting DA Mike Flaherty and a former assistant district attorney, Mark Sacha.

“We’re putting together a two-pronged team, one focused on strategy and leadership and the second on finance,” said Flynn, “and we should be ready to go within a week or two. I’ve already had many people approach me about wanting to contribute and hold fund- raisers. The reception has been unbelievable.”

While Flynn is getting his team lined up, Act- ing DA Flaherty is continuing to raise money with another fundraiser set for happy hour on Friday (Feb. 19) at Soho on Chippewa St. With Democratic State Committee operatives Jimmy Eagan and Rich Horner leading the way, Flaherty is expected to have a war chest of close to $400,000 at the next filing date.

But Flynn’s popularity among party regulars and his long record of success in the Town of Tonawanda where he formerly served as judge are expected to help him generate a consider- able war chest of his own to make his case for district attorney.

“I think I have the legal experience, the lead- ership, and the character to be an outstanding district attorney,” Flynn said during an inter- view this week. “I will incorporate all of these attributes to bring about change [in the DA’s office]. There has been a loss of public confi- dence from law enforcement to the legal com- munity in that office, and I’m going to change that.”

While Flynn has served in many positions over the course of his career, including as a judge in Tonawanda and in Buffalo City Court and as a town councilman, he says he has only run for office twice in 13 years and that hardly qual- ifies him as a career politician or perennial candidate as has been suggested by Sacha and the Flaherty camp.

Reacting to the Flynn endorsement by par- ty leaders, Flaherty said in an interview that “I’m a career prosecutor, not a politician, and I can’t worry about what the [Democratic] executive committee did.” Flaherty says his

campaign will be about establishing himself as his own man, not an extension of former DA Frank Sedita who he served as first assistant.

“This non-endorsement is a badge of honor,” said Flaherty, saying it should demonstrate to the public that he is not beholden to anybody, adding that as district attorney and a career prosecutor he will serve the public not the po- litical interests.

Both Flynn and Sacha are expected to hammer Flaherty as a carryover of the Sedita adminis- tration although Sedita served as president of the state District Attorney’s Association, was cross-endorsed for district attorney and State Supreme Court, and comes from a well re- spected political family dating back to Buffalo Mayor Frank Sedita and State Supreme Court Judge Frank A. Sedita, Jr.

Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Lang- worthy has asked former State Attorney Gen- eral Dennis Vacco to head up a search com- mittee for a candidate for district attorney, but Langworthy has not ruled out anything in a presidential year where a heavy Democratic

turnout is expected, including supporting one of the Democratic primary candidates for the post.

“It is still early,” said Langworthy when I asked him about the DA’s race. “Our mission is to find the best candidate to run on the Repub- lican line, someone we believe can do the job and win the election.”

Right now, Langworthy is focused on hosting the upcoming GOP state convention on Fri- day, March 4, at the Marriott Harbor Center, and letting the party know the local GOP “is getting things right, despite being down 2 to 1 in enrollment.” County Republicans control the legislature and hold the office of county comptroller.

Erie County Conservative Party Chairman Ralph Lorigo, the longest sitting local party chairman (1995), has met with all of the Dem- ocratic hopefuls and they continue to attend his famous Lackawanna breakfast every Satur- day in this political year headlined by the big race for district attorney.

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