Who will primary Tim Kennedy?

Political operatives have been searching for a Senate candidate in the 63rd district, but no candidate has yet stepped forward. Senator Tim Kennedy is among the chamber’s more vulnerable incumbents, despite the enormous Democratic Party enrollment advantage in the district.  The district was redrawn in 2011 to guarantee Democratic dominance, comprising the East Side of Buffalo, South Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Lackawanna, and parts of Westside of Buffalo.

Much of Buffalo’s political history in past decades has stemmed from the unwritten polity between the African American community and its leadership on the East Side, with the Irish American community and its leadership in South Buffalo. That both communities were merged in the last redistricting raised concerns among civic leaders at the time: how would the interests of both communities, long postured at odds with each other, be equally represented?

That the Black clergy has been largely placated by Kennedy has raised more than a few eyebrows — and questions about some clergymen’s impressive access to state funding.

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Kennedy is seen as highly vulnerable to a primary challenge — particularly from a candidate capable of mobilizing the African American vote — which comprises a majority of voters in the district’s Democratic Party primary.  Many names have long been floated for the seat in political circles including Ulysses Wingo, Murray Holman, Terrence Robinson, Katrinna Martin-Bordeaux, Arthur ‘Champ’ Eve Jr., Rev. Darius Pridgen, Miles Gresham, Bradley Bethel, Marshaun Quinney, Charley Fisher, Carolette Meadows, and Rev. Chuck Clemons — but none have stepped forward to run.

The winner of the seat in 2020 will be in a commanding position to redraw the district’s lines for the next ten years, making this election cycle less critical than the next.  If the district is won by an African American, it is likely to be redrawn into Niagara Falls.  If Kennedy retains the district and the Democrats have control of the chamber as expected, the district is likely drawn into Orchard Park and Hamburg.

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