Share this article

print logo

Assemblyman Ryan leads list of Democratic hopefuls for State Senate seat being vacated by Panepinto

Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan continues to lead the list of possible Democratic candidates in the State Senate’s 60th District following incumbent Marc C. Panepinto’s decision Tuesday not to seek a second term.

Jeremy J. Zellner, chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee, said Wednesday that if the Buffalo assemblyman wants it, he would most likely receive the party endorsement.

“If he wants to do this and leave a safe Assembly seat, a lot of people would respect that,” he said. “I think he’s in a strong position if he wants to do it.”

Another Democrat said that there is a consensus in Albany and Buffalo that Ryan would prove the strongest candidate this fall for the Democratic Party as it seeks to retain the 60th District seat.

“It’s his if he wants it,” the Democrat said on condition of anonymity.

Ryan told The Buffalo News that he is considering a candidacy.

But other Democrats are also eyeing a run in the 60th District, which could rank as the most contested and most expensive Senate contest in the state. Zellner said he has also received renewed interest from several potential candidates, including:

• Amber A. Small, executive director of the Parkside Community Association, who was passed over earlier this year by the county Democratic Party in favor of Panepinto. She has already declared her candidacy and begun campaigning.

• Michael P. Quinn Jr., an attorney and former ironworker who is Hamburg Democratic chairman. He had previously expressed interest, and Zellner said he is once again exploring a candidacy.

• Alfred T. Coppola, a former Buffalo Common Council member from the Delaware District, who briefly held the Senate seat after a special election in 2000. He almost won the 2014 primary against Panepinto, coming within 613 votes.

• Lisa M. Chimera, a Town Board member in Tonawanda who has frequently been mentioned as a Senate candidate.

Zellner also said he will consult with North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr., who has also expressed interest in the past.

“I’m not going to rush this,” the chairman said, adding that he will also discuss the race with statewide labor leaders and the Senate leadership.

County Clerk Christopher L. Jacobs continues to be mentioned as the leading Republican candidate, though some observers question whether the change in the political dynamic will affect his final decision.

Still, Erie County Republican Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy said this week that Jacobs remains his top candidate and that he hopes for a decision soon.

News Albany Bureau Chief Tom Precious contributed to this report email: