As the political fortunes of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (D) have risen, so have the fortunes of his political protégé, Antoine Thompson, who has literally been a Brown follower for his entire political career. A former staffer for Brown on the Buffalo City Council in the 1990s, Thompson was selected to replace Brown as the councilman for inner city Buffalo after Brown’s election to the State Senate in 2000. Following Brown’s mayoral victory in 2005, Thompson, with Brown’s strong support, sought the Senate seat, arguing that an African-American should hold one of the most strongly African-American Senate seats upstate. Bypassed by Democratic leaders for the special election, Thompson defeated State Sen. Marc Coppola (D) in the September 2006 primary for the right to represent Buffalo, Niagara Falls and two suburbs.
Thompson’s fortunes continued to rise once he reached Albany. He was quickly appointed the only upstate senator of the three Democratic Senate Campaign Committee co-chairs. After publicly flirting with challenging Rep. Louise Slaughter (D–Rochester) for her congressional seat in a 2006 primary before deciding to seek the Senate seat, Thompson’s name continues to be mentioned prominently as a potential Slaughter successor when the powerful Democrat, who is 78, retires. Thompson does not deny interest in a possible bid for higher office, but insists his focus in on the Senate and helping Democrats win the majority in 2008.
“I may be a senator for 30 years, but I doubt it,” Thompson said. “I live by the concept of work hard and be ready.”
What is your biggest accomplishment in office so far? My biggest thing this year is focusing on a couple of projects we got funded. [Several economic and tourism development initiatives in Niagara Falls, along with increasing funding for education and working on minority business initiatives.]
What do you want to accomplish in the next two years, governmentally and politically? To get as much money from Albany to my district, that is my No. 1 priority. The second one is to get rid of the fiscal control board in Buffalo.
What do you think should be the top three priorities for the state right now? Jobs; education; leadership