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Zellner: Gaughan a 'damn good Democrat'

By Jill Terreri

Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner said he would try to incorporate supporters of Kevin Gaughan, a regionalism advocate who lost his bid to be Erie County's next comptroller, into the party. 

Gaughan cares deeply for taxpayers and reform "and is a damn good Democrat," Zellner said before Gaughan spoke to a small crowd gathered in Erie County Democratic headquarters. "He did everything we asked of him." 

Gaughan's downsizing efforts have not pleased some party leaders in the past, on both sides of the aisle. 

Zellner and Gaughan both offered reasons why Gaughan was not successful. 

"We originally had a different candidate for county comptroller," Zellner said. "We had 10 days to a week to find a candidate." 

Gaughan faced accusations regarding his personal finances and money owed to the IRS, and acknowledged during his concession speech that he brought baggage into the race. 

"I take full responsibility for this lack of success," he said. "I'm going to think about the lessons that we learned." 

"There were deficiencies that I brought to this campaign," he said. But, "I had a difficult time recognizing them as they were described by my opponent."

Gaughan lost to Republican Stefan Mychajliw, who won a special election last year and was seeking his first full term. 

"I've learned that the future is not a gift, it's an achievement," Gaughan said. He noted the region's decline over the last 40 years, and said, "We're begining to feel a shaft of light across our face." 

Other, less poetic, observations from Erie County Democratic Committee headquarters in Larkinville: 

  • Zellner insisted the party is unified, and said mayors have traditionally held their own victory parties. (Mayor Byron Brown's was much, much larger, and was held just a few miles away at the Statler.) . "I would not say there is disunity in the organization," he said. "We're moving forward." 
  • Zellner is also chief of staff in the County Legislature, and said he expects to stay there, working for what will be the Democratic minority in 2014. "I don't know why everybody's obsessed with my employment situation," he said.
  • Bernie Tolbert, who lost his Democratic primary bid against Mayor Byron Brown, said he resisted the urging of so many around him to run for sheriff because he was not interested in working in rural areas, and wanted to concentrate on the city. He said he doesn't regret the run. He is planning on staying involved, he said, though he doesn't know what that will look like, yet. "I didn't come back to take this one shot. I'm not going anywhere," he said.  


Elections | Erie County | Erie County clerk | Kevin Gaughan | Stefan Mychajliw
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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.

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.

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 |

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 |