A war of words between two of the most high-profile Democrats in Erie County continues to escalate. The latest shot came from Executive Mark Poloncarz who told Liz Benjamin, Monday that State Senator Tim Kennedy is partially to blame for Democratic losses at the polls

“Tim created an enemy himself last year when he, working with (former Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman) Steve Pigeon and his associates, put in nearly $100,000 into Steve Pigeon’s PAC which was used against candidates who were running on the Democratic line for the Erie County Legislature,” Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz said he endorsed Kennedy’s opponent, Erie County Legislative Minority Leader Betty Jean Grant, not only because he feels comfortable with her but because he believes Kennedy’s actions “partially” cost the Democrats the Majority in the Legislature.

“Betty Jean Grant was the Chairwoman of the Erie County Legislature, in the Majority, until we lost the Majority last year partially because of the money Tim Kennedy put in to run against other Democrats,” Poloncarz said.

Poloncarz denied the endorsement was political payback and said he would ultimately support the winner of the primary. Kennedy narrowly defeated Grant in a primary for the 63rd State Senate District two years ago. Poloncarz did not make an endorsement then.

“I could have sat back and did nothing but I truly believe Betty Jean Grant would be a better State Senator to the people of this district,” Poloncarz said.

Kennedy, for his part, has not been shy about firing back at Poloncarz.  Last week he called the Poloncarz endorsement “irrelevant” and given by “failed leadership in Erie County.”

Kennedy’s office elaborated on that statement Monday Night and suggested the County Executive’s endorsement is a response to Kennedy shedding “needed light on major deficiencies within Erie County government.”  Specifically, Kennedy’s camp highlighted what it called problems in Erie County Child Protective Services.

“The glaring flaws that New York State uncovered have helped bring about new statewide reforms prompted by Erie County’s failures. The County Executive remains resentful that Senator Kennedy called for this needed state intervention in county government, and as a result, he is backing his opponent.”

As far as Kennedy’s contribution to the WNY Progressive Caucus, Kennedy’s Campaign defended the move.

“Senator Kennedy contributed to a PAC that supported strong, progressive Democrats who vowed to bring change and a hardworking mentality to Erie County government and who could win against Republicans in the November elections.”