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Tolbert's delay in declaring mayoral candidacy has roots in history

By Robert J. McCarthy

Bernard Tolbert, the former chief of the Buffalo FBI who is weighing a bid for mayor this year, has received lots of unsolicited advice in past weeks.

Some friends are telling him he has waited too long to declare his candidacy. Others say he is right to "keep everyone guessing" as he continues exploring a Democratic primary race against two-term incumbent Byron W. Brown -- who officially announces on Saturday.

But Tolbert is still not offering any hints, even as he attends a host of citywide events like last Friday's St. Patrick's luncheon at the Buffalo Irish Center and the 60th annual dinner of the National Federation of Just Communities Wednesday night at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

As Tolbert plays it cool, he may realize at least a bit of history is on his side if he holds off even longer. A search of Buffalo News archives reveals that the hot mayoral race of 1997 took its time getting started too.

After one-term incumbent Anthony M. Masiello let it be known early on he would run for re-election, former Mayor James D. Griffin didn't launch his comeback bid until May 13. And it was nine days later that then-Common Council President James W. Pitts joined the fray.

It could be argued that Griffin and Pitts were well known political names with experienced campaign teams behind them, and that circumstances are now different. But Griffin and Pitts clearly demonstrated an ability to wage serious campaigns back in 1997 -- explaining why Tolbert may not tip his hand for months to come.

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Bernie Tolbert | Byron Brown
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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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