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Erie County Executive Chris Collins joined in spreading the official GOP message Wednesday, addressing the Republican National Convention with calls for hurricane relief donations and a plug for the new vice presidential nominee.

Collins spoke for about three minutes starting at 7:50 p.m. EDT, explaining his resolve to bring business principles to county government and noting that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin also brings management experience to the GOP ticket.

"I am particularly proud that there is an individual on at least one of the presidential tickets -- ours -- with management experience in local government," he said. "Gov. Palin will bring a body of knowledge and experience that too few in federal government have."

Collins, who was elected last November on the platform of running county government like a business, used his brief time on the podium to outline his own philosophy.

"I run New York's largest upstate county, and I run it like a business, using principles of lean Six Sigma," he said. "We focus on daily accountability, personal service and cooperation. Making government more responsive to the needs of the people it serves is the hallmark of my administration."

But that was about all the county executive was allowed to say about his government back in Buffalo, as he turned to the official convention line seeking donations for victims affected by this week's hurricane along the Gulf Coast.

"We can all be very proud of the work being done by our governors, and our county and local officials," he said. "They are on the front lines making sure the needs of all our citizens are met and our streets and neighborhoods are protected."

Many political observers believe that the significance of Collins' national appearance Wednesday was not so much his words, but the fact that he he was invited to address the convention. Party insiders say they were more than happy to showcase a successful Republican candidate in an overwhelmingly Democratic county, especially one who strongly espouses the use of business concepts to run a local government.

The county executive added another dash to the Buffalo flavor evident at this convention, stemming from his association with Washington political consultant Michael J. Hook, one of several alumni of the office of former Rep. Bill Paxon, R-Newstead, who have been active at the convention here. Hook is seen as the connection that brought the county executive to the attention of party officials.

Collins was one of several speakers representing various walks of life chosen to highlight Republican principles in the hours leading to addresses by Wednesday night's main speakers.

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com