Notes and observations from a very busy campaign trail:

*Mickey Kearns' victory in Tuesday's special election for the 145th Assembly District has thrust him into the statewide spotlight for lots of reasons.

He was an underdog who won; he was backed by Carl Paladino, the 2010 GOP candidate for governor whom the New York City media still loves to hate; he promised to vote against one of the most powerful political figures in the state -- Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver; he is a Democrat who ran as a Republican; he won in an overwhelmingly Democratic district; and he took on a political team headed by Rep. Brian Higgins and won big time.

Statewide media? That'll do it.

*So why did Erie County Democrats reject Kearns when he sought their endorsement for Assembly earlier this year? Maybe because he supported Paladino for governor.

That'll do it, too.

Speaking of Kearns' backing of Paladino, it is interesting to note that Gov. Andrew Cuomo recorded automated phone calls that rolled through the 145th District in the days before the election urging votes for -- surprise -- Fahey.

"We've made great progress in this state over the past 15 months," the governor told local voters, "but I need an Assembly that I can work with to continue the progress."

*South Buffalo, home to now ex-Council Member Kearns as well as top political figures like Higgins, remains a fascinating place to observe politics. Despite an almost 5-to-1 Democratic enrollment advantage, Kearns won the South District on the GOP line by a 60 percent to 40 percent tally.

In 2010, South bucked the rest of the city (but not Erie County) as the only Council district to back Republican Paladino for governor. Paladino won 2 to 1.

And in 1992, South Buffalo political wizards predicted the Democratic district would never vote for congressional candidate Jack Quinn Jr. -- a native son who somehow wandered to the GOP -- over Democrat Dennis Gorski. Quinn won almost 2 to 1.

*What is it with South Buffalo assemblymen and Silver?

As an assemblyman in 2000, Higgins joined an unsuccessful coup against the speaker. His successor, Mark Schroeder, also opposed him. Now Kearns shows up in Albany vowing to vote against Silver for speaker.

Some Albany watchers think the utility room in the basement of the Legislative Office Building -- the one right near the boiler -- might prove just right for Kearns' new office. Then again, maybe Kearns will bring his own Etch-a-Sketch to Albany and erase all those anti-Silver thoughts.

*Rep. Kathy Hochul must be among those studying Tuesday's election results most intently after challenging Higgins in a Democratic primary loomed as a possibility. Reapportionment, after all, cast a much redder tone over her current district.

Many analysts saw the Kearns win as a chink in the armor of Higgins, who risked his own political capital in support of Democrat Chris Fahey -- his friend and longtime aide.

Hochul reiterates she remains an official Higgins friend, however, and will take her chances in a district where she did just fine in last May's special election.

*Sources close to top Western New York Republicans say several outlying county chairmen are not exactly thrilled about the expected return of Chris Collins as this year's Hochul opponent. They feel the former county executive foisted unsuccessful candidate Jane Corwin upon them for Congress in 2011 and is repeating that performance this year.

That's why it will be interesting to see if the chairmen rally around one candidate, or whether they will throw open the process to a rare GOP primary.