With tonight's televised debate, the contest for Erie County Executive is expected to heat up. Buffalo News political reporter Bob McCarthy, one of the debate panelists, says until now the contest had been a "sleepy race."
McCarthy will be joined on the panel by WGRZ-TV's Claudine Ewing. They will be asking questions, along with WBFO News Director Brian Meyer, who will also serve as debate moderator.
"I think certainly you will hear the County Executive Mark Poloncarz say that he has run a quote-unquote 'scandal-free' administration despite the latest claims. He will talk about the way he handled the snowstorm. He'll talk about good financial management," McCarthy said.
Republican challenger Assemblyman Ray Walter, McCarthy believes, will take an aggressive approach in an effort to energize his campaign.
"I think Ray Walter will come after him (Poloncarz) with a lot of questions why we're not doing better in economic development," McCarthy said.
"One of Ray Walter's main contentions is that Mark Poloncarz claims credit for everything. I'm sure we're going to hear that, especially when he's going to say a lot of the good things that are happening in Buffalo are a result the state's Buffalo Billion program."
Though the Buffalo News has not conducted any polling on the Erie County race, McCarthy gives an edge to the incumbent. He considers Walter to be a "good candidate" who has "a tough job to overcome."
With the power of incumbency behind him, Poloncarz can stake his claim on a record of a "smoothly running" administration.
"That's why I say tonight will be a good faceoff between the two of them," said McCarthy of the debate that will be televised starting at 7 p.m. on WNED-TV and WGRZ-TV, and will be heard on WBFO.