James P. Keane, a former deputy Erie County executive and Democratic candidate for Congress and county executive has died on Monday in Mercy Hospital in Buffalo after a surgery, according to The Buffalo News.
Keane had served in the Air Force in Thailand during the Vietnam war and became a firefighter when he returned.
He had served in the Common Council in the 1980’s and ran for Erie County executive, to which he lost to Dennis Gorski in the Democratic primary.
He then became Gorski’s deputy, as commissioner of emergency services. He then ran again in 2007, and lost to Chris Collins. He was also regional manager in Hillary Clinton’s Buffalo office after she became the U.S senate in 2000.
Keane’s wife, Margaret Keane, was the first woman Buffalo firefighter and a deputy fire commissioner. Two of their children are also firefighters and another one has a position in City Hall.
Keane was also one of 16 children. His brother, Richard Keane, was a late Assemblyman and other brother Cornelius Keane is a retired Buffalo Fire Commissioner.
Former Erie County Democratic chairman Leonard Lenihan, said: “Jim was Mr. Democrat. He just ate, slept and lived Democratic politics. And he was a great candidate.
One of his greatest races was against Jack Kemp in 1986 and he almost beat him, just to show you what an amazing campaigner he was. His whole life was connecting with working people. We lost one of our best.”
“He was the prototype of a politician, always happy, always smiling,” said Sam Hoyt, regional president of the Empire State Economic Development Corp. and a former assemblyman. “He was the go-to guy because he had the fire in the belly, he had the energy and the enthusiasm. He always stepped up for the cause.”