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BIPARTISAN BACKING UNLIKELY IN STATE COURT RACES

Democratic and Republican leaders are wrapping up preparations for naming judicial candidates for this fall's election, with most signs pointing to no cross-endorsement process.

Although those close to the process of submitting candidates for State Supreme Court emphasize that nothing is final, sources in both camps say it appears that efforts to obtain bipartisan backing for several candidates -- most notably Justice Penny M. Wolfgang and former Erie County Democratic Chairman Vincent J. Sorrentino -- have proven unsuccessful.

As a result, Ere County Republican Chairman Robert E. Davis said he expects to run Wolfgang and former U.S. Attorney Salvatore R. Martoche, as well as one other candidate, on their own.

A source close to Erie County Democratic Chairman G. Steven Pigeon said he is leaning toward City Judge E. Jeannette Ogden and attorney Gerald J. Whalen, with the third Democratic spot up in the air between attorney Peter M. Jasen and Amherst Town Justice Mark G. Farrell.

"It looks like there will be no deals," said one source in the Pigeon camp. "It's going to be too heated a battle for the county executive to do deals."

Several sources say the close race faced by County Executive Gorski against Republican challenger Joel A. Giambra may lead Democrats to Ogden, an African-American, to attract normally Democratic black voters to the polls.

All sources say the situation could change by Thursday, when Republicans are scheduled to gather for their judicial nominating convention. Democrats are to meet Monday, as are Conservatives.

The Independence Party is to meet Thursday.

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