It was significant that Democrat Andrew M. Cuomo visited the first-ring suburb of Cheektowaga on Friday, because the town sports a remarkable knack for pointing the way in gubernatorial elections.
Since 1942, records show it has voted for the winner or just barely missed in every election. Only once did Cheektowaga miss badly; in 1970, when it picked Democrat Arthur J. Goldberg and all of New York favored Republican Nelson A. Rockefeller.
And in 1982, it missed when it narrowly voted for Republican Lewis E. Lehrman and the state went with Democrat Mario M. Cuomo, the current Democratic candidate's father. (The town voted with the rest of the state for Mario Cuomo in 1986 and 1990, but turned against him in 1994 when it helped elect Republican George E. Pataki.)
In 2010, however, Cheektowaga appears to be part of the support that gives Paladino a 19-point lead in Erie County, according to last week's Goldhaber Research Associates poll.
Even Cheektowaga's top Democrat, town Chairman Frank C. Max Jr., acknowledges that the bellwether town will most likely vote for Paladino this year. He called Cheektowagans "incensed" over the ways of Albany, pointing out that veteran State Sen. William T. Stachowski "got killed" in the Democratic primary in what normally proved his most loyal base.
"The Democrats here are blue dog," he said, referring to a more conservative Democrat. "You can't get away with that liberal nonsense here."
Max said he had to work overtime to persuade the Cuomo campaign to come into Cheektowaga, especially since most observers believe the Democratic stronghold is seriously considering Republican Paladino.
"I would say Paladino would win [here]," he said, "but that it's tightening up.
"We can't turn around anger," Max added. "All we can really say is: 'Do you really want to vote for this guy?'"
--Robert J. McCarthy