GOP to Take Control of Erie County Legislature

November 6, 2013 Updated Nov 6, 2013 at 6:58 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

November 6, 2013 Updated Nov 6, 2013 at 6:58 PM EDT

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) Election Day 2013 turned out to be very good for the Erie County Republican Committee.

Republican candidates won several races including contests for Erie County Sheriff and County Comptroller.

It was also a historic day as Republicans won a majority in the Erie County Legislature for the first time since 1977.

It happened when Republican candidate Ted Morton won the legislative seat for the 8th District which covers South Cheektowaga, Lancaster, Depew, and Alden.

"I think we have a tremendous upset," said a very happy Nicholas Langworthy, Erie County Republican Committee chairman.

The victory also means that Republican Legislator John Mills (11th District) will become the new chair for the legislature in January - replacing Democrat Betty Jean Grant who currently holds the position.

"They are going to make government do more with less and you are going to see a lot more to come from these county legislators," explained Langworthy.

The Republican wins are also causing some people to speculate on the future of Erie County Democratic Committee chairman Jeremy Zellner.

"Being a Democratic chairman is kind of like being a football coach," added former Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan.

"When you win its great. The minute you lose they start coming after you."

Lenihan added that while the Democrats did not do well in the big county races, things were better in local village and town elections.

"Jeremy Zellner did okay where he had to in the towns. He won a lot more than he lost; picked up seats, picked up control. He did okay. So overall, it is kind of a balanced out situation," commented Lenihan.

The former Democratic chairman said that the focus will now shift to next year's political races featuring some important Democratic candidates like Congressman Brian Higgins and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

That will allow Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz some breathing room before his re-election bid takes place in 2015.

But Lenihan warns that a Republican majority legislature has to be careful in how they deal with the county executive or it could turn-off voters.

"The Republicans have to be seen as trying to cooperate with him - not just trying to defeat him. And if they try to overdo it, I think it is going to help Poloncarz rather than hurt him," commented Lenihan