Legislature candidates supported by Democratic Party leaders appeared to have won two of the four primary races against rival candidates Tuesday.
Former Legislature Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams, who is backed by the party wing led by Cheektowaga leader Frank Max was leading incumbent Timothy R. Hogues, the choice of the Democratic Party leaders. The vote was 3,588 to 3,568 with all 53 districts reporting. There are still 418 absentee votes to be counted.
Meanwhile, current Legislature Chairwoman Betty Jean Grant trounced her challenger, Joyce Wilson-Nixon, 4,848 to 1,977 in the Second District race.
There was a big upset in the three-way Democratic primary battle for the Seventh District Legislature seat that is being vacated by Legislature Majority Leader Thomas Mazur.
Unaligned candidate Patrick B. Burke of South Buffalo beat both the party leader-backed candidate Lynn M. Dearmyer and former Cheektowaga Council Member Richard A. Zydel, who was supported by a rival wing of the party.
Burke collected 1,627 votes, or 38 percent of the vote, to Dearmyer’s 1,552 votes, or 36 percent, while Zydel picked up 1,117 votes, or 26 percent.
In the Eighth District, Wynnie L. Fisher of Alden, supported by the party establishment, won over Wesley S. Moore of Lancaster, backed by rival forces within the party, by a vote of 1,490 to 1,157, or 56 percent to 44 percent.
Informally, the results would seem to represent a small win for Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner over party forces aligned with Max, the Cheektowaga Democratic leader.
Fueled by a long simmering rivalry within the party, Max fielded a slew of alternative candidates to go head-to-head with those backed by party headquarters.
Those rival forces aligned with him even created a political action committee that, days before the primary, raised tens of thousands of dollars to pay for glossy, anonymous mailers attacking the party-backed candidates.
In the ensuing days, opponents lodged formal complaints with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Moreland Commission on Public Corruption, alleging that the PAC, Western New York Progressive Caucus, violated state election laws.
The race between Hogues and Miller-Williams was a rematch of their pitched battle in last year’s general election. In that race, Miller-Williams was the incumbent, forced to run as a write-in candidate on a minor party line.
Miller-Williams, 57, a retired Buffalo police officer and former Buffalo Common Council member, lost that matchup against Hogues after angering party leaders during her last stint as Legislature chairwoman by aligning with former Republican County Executive Chris Collins.
The First District encompasses vast stretches of the city’s East and Lower West sides.
Burke, who won in the Seventh District primary race, ran and lost in a Buffalo Democratic primary in 2012 when a special election was held to replace Michael P. Kearns as the South District Common Council member.
Kearns had won election to the State Assembly.
Burke, 29, works as an assistant manager at the Buffalo Irish Center.
Fisher, the winner of the Eighth District primary, will face off against Republican Ted B. Morton of Depew for the seat that is currently held by Democrat Terrence McCracken of Lancaster. McCracken chose not to run for re-election.