There will be no free rides this year for the Western New York congressional delegation.
Unlike 1988, each of the area's five members of the House of Representatives will have a major-party opponent in the Nov. 6 general election.
Despite the heavy odds against ousting an incumbent, none of the Buffalo-area congressmen is taking re-election for granted.
Two years ago, Rep. Henry J. Nowak, D-Buffalo, was unopposed and Rep. Amory Houghton, R-Corning, had only token opposition from a minor-party candidate.
This year, Nowak has a Republican opponent and a challenger in the Democratic primary, and Houghton has a Democratic opponent.
But don't bet against the incumbents.
Nowak, whose quiet but effective style has made him one of the most influential members of the House, has a reputation for delivering federal aid to his district and Western New York in general.
It was Nowak who last weekend broke the logjam over federal and state funding for the 1993 World University Games, which will be held in the Buffalo area.
He arranged for the allocation of the first $1 million in federal funds for the games. Two days later, Gov. Cuomo used a visit to Buffalo to recommend a $27.3 million state funding package for the games.
In 1988, Rep. John J. LaFalce, D-Town of Tonawanda, had only token opposition from Republican Emil Everett of Amherst. This year, it appears he will have two opponents, a Republican and a Right to Life Party candidate.
The Republican is Michael T. Waring, a Buffalo native and business executive who is the GOP leader in the Town of Ogden in Monroe County.
LaFalce last week unveiled a bold initiative in the form of a tax and spending reduction plan designed to wipe out the federal budget deficit in the next five years. The plan incorporates some of the suggestions of Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., who wants to cut Social Security payroll taxes, and Rep. Daniel Rostenkowski, D-Ill., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who has recommended major reductions in domestic program spending.
Nowak is a member of the House Public Works Committee and chairman of its Subcommittee on Water Resources. LaFalce is chairman of the House Committee on Small Business and a member of the Banking Committee.
The positions they hold, along with their seniority -- both have served in the House almost 16 years -- give them clout in an institution in which tenure and rank add up to influence and power.
In '88, there were major contests in the 30th District, where Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, survived a challenge by Republican John Bouchard, a Rochester attorney, and in the 31st District, where the then-incumbent, Jack F. Kemp, R-Hamburg, did not seek re-election.
Bill Paxon, R-Amherst, defeated Erie County Clerk David Swarts, the Democratic candidate, to capture the congressional seat once held by Kemp, who is now President Bush's housing secretary.
This year, major contests again are shaping up in the 30th and 31st districts. The GOP has endorsed Rochester attorney John M. Regan Jr. to oppose Slaughter and the Democrats will run Hamburg attorney Kevin J. Gaughan against Paxon.
In the 34th District, Democrats have chosen a retired business executive and civil servant to challenge Houghton. He is Joseph P. Leahey of Valois in Schuyler County, who was a manager for the General Electric Corp. and later an employee of the U.S. Corps of Engineers.
The GOP has endorsed Thomas K. Kepfer of South Buffalo, a state corrections officer, to run against Nowak in the 33rd District.
For Kepfer, it has all the appearances of a sacrificial run in a heavily Democratic district against a popular incumbent. But the important thing is that Kepfer will be be showing the Republican flag, a symbolic gesture that party leaders view as important.
Nowak also faces a Democratic primary from Louis P. Corrigan of Buffalo, a retired electrical engineer.
Newly appointed Erie County Family Court Judge Timothy J. Trost took the oath of office from his father, J. Douglas Trost, who served on the same court for 13 years before he retired.
After the ceremony, Trost turned to his son and said, "Now, go to work."
Gov. Cuomo's staff fouled up last week on the appointment of David N. Greenfield of Lockport to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. Cuomo was in Erie and Niagara counties on Monday, but the appointment wasn't announced until Tuesday, after it had been confirmed by the State Senate.