It’s been called the worst kept secret in Monroe County politics.  On Thursday it’s expected Cheryl Dinolfo will finally make it official and announce she’s running for County Executive.

The Monroe County Clerk has long been a rumored candidate for the office.  With most of her GOP rivals dropping out in recent weeks, Dinolfo’s candidacy has been considered a foregone conclusion.

Dinolfo is looking to follow in the current County Executive’s footsteps.  Maggie Brooks, who faces term limits, used her time in the Monroe County Clerk’s office as springboard to run for County Executive in 2003.

The path to success through the clerk’s office is not limed to Brooks or the Republican Party.  Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul spent nearly eight years in the Erie County Clerk’s Office, four running it, before winning a special Congressional Election in 2011.

Both Brooks and Hochul have learned the post not only provides valuable experience in dealing with state and federal regulations, it can also offer a political soap box.  Dinolfo pushed back against former Governor Eliot Spitzer’s plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants in 2007.  Six years later she spoke out against attempts to make gun permit records public.

Monroe County Republican Party Chairman Bill Reilich has called a press conference for Thursday at noon.  The timing of the announcement would allow Dinolfo to attend a major GOP fundraising event on Saturday Night as the “heir apparent” to Brooks.

While the GOP hopes declaring its candidate early will help them retain control of a seat they’ve held since 1992, the list of potential Democrats candidates is still pretty long.  New Monroe County Democratic Party Chairman Dave Garretson is reportedly considering County Legislature Minority Leader Carrie Andrews, Irondequoit Town Supervisor Adam Bello, former County Legislator Vincent Esposito, former Brighton Town Supervisor Sandra Frankel, and former Monroe County District Attorney Mike Green.

Former State Senator Ted O’Brien said Wednesday night he is not a candidate but has urged Garretson to take his time.

“There’s no rush and there’s a long list of qualified candidates. We have plenty of time between now and our nominating convention in May,” O’Brien said.