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   Chris Lee, the Republican candidate to succeed Rep. Tom Reynolds in Congress, has had a good week.

    And by all accounts, he hardly lifted a finger.

   That's because Democrats have been beating each other up as well as tripping all over each other for the past few days. Lee just sits back and watches the "fun."

  For Democratic congressional candidate Jack Davis, it revolved around the fiasco of paying $10,000 to the wives of the Independence Party chairmen in Erie and Monroe counties for "consulting" services. The result was a firestorm of internal party revolt against the two leaders -- Tony Orsini of Erie and Rafael Colon of Monroe.

  But Davis took his share of flak too, and Friday he apologized for making the payments and severed all contacts with Judy Orsini and Blanca Colon. That followed a critical editorial on Friday in The Buffalo News.

   Fellow Democrat Jon Powers didn't escape unscathed. He was rapped in the same News editorial for touting his War Kids Relief foundation to help Iraqi children, when its accomplishments proved less than hoped for.

    The result was that the third Democrat in the race, Alice Kryzan, sent out a fundraising appeal on
Friday citing the difficulties of her primary opponents and declaring "Alice is the answer."

  All this worked out well for Lee. The Cook report, an influential Washington publication, revised its assessment of the campaign this week  from "tossup" to "leaning Republican."

  -- Robert J. McCarthy

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