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Thompson won't challenge Kennedy Ends speculation on State Senate race

Antoine M. Thompson said Wednesday he will not challenge State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy in the September Democratic primary, ending speculation over a comeback attempt that would have spawned a major political battle.

"A lot of inner-city people are calling and asking me, 'Why not?' " the former senator told The Buffalo News. "But the timing right now would have made it a nasty political race pitting South Buffalo against East Buffalo."

"This is a deep loss for a lot of progressives and inner-city people," he added, "but it's not the time for a bitter race like that."

Thompson, who was beaten in 2010 by Republican Mark J. Grisanti in a colossal upset, acknowledged seriously considering a run against Kennedy after redistricting placed him in a new and adjoining district.

Various reports indicated he had all but announced his candidacy; Erie County Democratic Chairman Leonard R. Lenihan as late as this week said he expected Thompson to run.

"I gave it a lot of thought," the former senator said. "And I know a lot of people are disappointed because there is no African-American senator from upstate."

A Kennedy spokesman said Thompson informed the senator via text message that he would not be running this year.

Kennedy now appears as the heavy favorite to win re-election to a second term, with no opponent in the Democratic primary and no Republican in the general election yet.

Thompson said he will concentrate on his real estate and publishing businesses, but he did not rule out running again in the future.

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com