CHEEKTOWAGA, NY - Bert Dunn and Dick Dobson are not political activists, but the two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Erie County Sheriff find themselves in the middle of the continued battle for control of the party.
Dunn is a lieutenant for the Sheriff's Office; Dobson is a retired lieutenant.
For the most part, the two candidates shy away from attacking each other, reserving their criticisms for the current officeholder, Republican Tim Howard.
But the two factions of the Democratic Party, each supporting one of the men, are on the attack in this race.
Dobson has the backing of the WNY Progressive Caucus, a controversial group at odds with the current leadership of the party. The caucus paid for an attack ad that is airing now. It calls out Dunn for a text message he sent to a Republican friend. In the text, Dunn said he is no friend of President Obama or Governor Cuomo.
In response, Dunn said the text was taken out of context.
"I had a friend who's a registered Republican, pretty staunch, and he wanted to know if it'll be okay for him to help my candidacy, and I said of course," Dunn told 2 On Your Side.
Dobson claimed to have had no input or influence on the group's commercial.
"I had nothing at all to do with it," Dobson said. "It came as a surprise to me."
Meantime, Dunn gets the backing of the current party leadership, including the county chairman. They attacked Dobson, insisting he return the money spent to air that ad.
Dobson says he didn't approve the ad or spend any of his campaign money to air it.
On the issues, the two candidates are somewhat similar. They say their first move on day one will be to improve morale in the Sheriff's Office.
They are also critical of Sheriff Howard's handling and management of the Erie County Holding Center, which has been subjected to multiple lawsuits and investigations by the federal government.
The winner of Tuesday's primary will face Howard in November's general election.