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State Sen. Anthony R. Nanula defeated two challengers in the Democratic Party primary, and now will square off against University Council Member Kevin J. Helfer in November's race for Buffalo comptroller.

And the race began moments after Tuesday's primary results were in.

"I have a detailed plan, one that is going to take better advantage of the comptroller's office," Nanula said. "I'm the most qualified person running."

Helfer, running on the Republican and Conservative lines, must overcome a huge Democratic party affiliation edge.

He described himself as an independent. In contrast, he said, Nanula is closely tied to the county Democratic Party.

"My only special interest group is the voters of the City of Buffalo," Helfer said. "We will stress that theme from beginning to end."

Nanula won the Democratic line with 13,337 votes, or 42 percent of the vote, to 12,146, or 38 percent, for Herbert L. Bellamy, chairman of the Buffalo Sewer Authority, and 6,108, or 19 percent, for Richard C. Pawarski, the current deputy comptroller.

Helfer, who already had the Republican line, won the Conservative endorsement by defeating Mark A. Pasternak by 225 to 104.

Helfer said he begins the campaign as an underdog because of party enrollment and because of Nanula's personal wealth, which allowed him to spend $580,000 in his 1994 State Senate campaign.

"But to me, it's very winnable race," Helfer said. "Nobody ever outworked me, and nobody ever will outwork me."

Nanula said he will run an "issues oriented" campaign emphasizing his experience as a state senator and a businessman, and a four-point plan to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of city government.

Helfer said he hopes to raise $150,000 for his campaign, and to spend 50 percent of it on television advertising and another 25 percent for radio ads.

"There are a lot of people out there who are frustrated with the status quo and who want new leadership," he said. "My job is to get the entire city to know me as well as the University District already does."

Nanula was more guarded about his spending plans.

"We want to relish this victory in the Democratic primary, first and foremost," he said said. "It's too early to tell. That's something we'll look at."

Helfer said his campaign will emphasize his high rankings in a recent Buffalo News survey on Common Council members, his role in the Street Sanitation Department and other reforms, his private business experience, and Nanula's unwillingness to commit to serving a full four-year term as comptroller.

"Obviously, if he doesn't want to commit to a full term, he doesn't want to be comptroller," Helfer said.

Nanula called that a charge a diversionary tactic.

"If I wasn't committed to being comptroller I wouldn't have run -- period," he said.

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