John J. Flynn has captured the title of Erie County district attorney.
With most of the votes counted late Tuesday, Flynn, a Democrat, held to a convincing lead over Joseph V. Treanor III, a Conservative who ran with Republican Party backing.
"Erie County has given me a chance to continue my public service," Flynn said, after victory appeared certain. "I'm honored and privileged."
Flynn, 50, is a former homicide prosecutor and judge in the Town of Tonawanda and City of Buffalo.
His win Tuesday capped a bruising primary battle and then a general election campaign that turned red-hot in its final week, when Treanor went on the offensive with a blitz of television ads. The political attack prompted Flynn to fashion a blunt-talking response with one of his own television commercials.
Treanor refused to accept outside donations into his campaign fund, because, he said, a top prosecutor cannot even appear to be beholden. But he accepted sizable assistance from the county Republican Party, which paid for his TV buys.
Democrats have won the district attorney's office ever since Erie County started electing its top prosecutor in presidential election years. With the county's surplus of Democratic voters, it's difficult for a Republican to win the DA's race. The last Republican to do so was Richard J. Arcara, in 1985.
But the effects of Donald J. Trump at the top of the Republican ticket was expected to help down-ballot Republicans because the real estate magnate seemed destined to do well in Western New York. While Hillary Clinton won the state, Trump indeed did better in Erie County.
Treanor, 57, is a retired Air Force colonel who returned to the Buffalo region just a few years ago. He polled strongly, even though he's a relative newcomer to county politics. He lost a race for Cheektowaga town justice two years ago, and he said he probably would not have run for DA if he had been elected a judge.
Neither Republicans nor Democrats fielded the candidate they had expected to at the dawn of the year. The Democrats were counting on Thomas P. Franczyk, an Erie County Court judge and a former prosecutor, to run with their party's label. But Franczyk surprisingly said in January that he would not run.
Michael J. Flaherty, who became the acting district attorney when Frank A. Sedita III left office at the start of 2016, sought the party's favor, according to party Chairman Jeremy Zellner. But little fondness remained between Sedita and party headquarters, and the feelings extended to Sedita's chosen successor.
That is when the Democratic Party leaders backed Flynn, and he triumphed in a three-way primary against Flaherty and a former assistant prosecutor, Mark Sacha.
The Republicans, meanwhile, don't always field a candidate in the DA's race and were thinking of a cross-endorsement. They talked with Flaherty, expecting he could leverage the GOP line to attain the Conservative Party's backing. But when the Conservatives backed Flynn, those talks drifted away without a resolution. The GOP then turned to Treanor.
2016 election results:
Story topics: wednesday a section