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MASIELLO'S PRIMARY VICTORY TOOK ANY DOUBT OUT OF MAYORAL RACE

It started by setting Buffalo abuzz with excitement over a three-way race featuring the best-known political figures in the city.

But the campaign for mayor has fizzled into a non-campaign that essentially ended with Mayor Masiello's victory in the Democratic primary on Sept. 9. And though opponents James W. Pitts and James D. Griffin continue low-key efforts on minor-party lines, most experts say Masiello's re-election Tuesday is a mere formality.

As a result, there have been no debates, no forums, no news conferences. Even advertising is non-existent, though some is expected to begin popping up on local television channels this week.

Still, the "campaign" continues. Masiello has been most visible on the campaign trail, mostly because he is the mayor. But he also is planning a spate of television commercials in the days just before the election, emphasizing what he sees as accomplishments and outlining future plans.

And since Masiello won the primary with only 43 percent of the vote (compared to 31 percent for Pitts and 26 percent for Griffin), the mayor is not taking anything for granted.

"We plan to run another full-scale campaign," Masiello said shortly after his primary victory.

According to mayoral spokesman Stephen T. Banko III, that will mean literature drops and radio and television spots over the next few days. One of those radio ads will feature Kate Masiello, the mayor's wife.

"And we've got 100 volunteers each night in headquarters doing (literature) drops and mailings," Banko said.

Pitts is running as the Liberal Party candidate, while Griffin competes on the Right to Life line. Neither candidate returned phone calls for this story, and neither has returned phone calls during the general election portion of the campaign.

Another minor-party candidate, Sharon A. Caetano, is challenging Masiello on the Conservative Party line. She may be the campaign's most active participant, issuing press releases calling for repeal of the garbage tax and end to property tax hikes.

She has also called for an end to "perks" such as big cars for city officials, paid parking privileges, and would cut her own salary by 40 percent.

Griffin, meanwhile, reported over $40,000 in his campaign kitty after the primary, with a portion earmarked for some television advertising during the last week, according to several sources. The ads are expected to follow much of his primary campaign message and instruct supporters where to find his name on the ballot.

The ads are expected to emphasize his plan to repeal the garbage tax, put more police on the street and guard against declining property values.

Campaign sources said Pitts has not yet bought any air time but could in the last days. Still, nothing major is expected since he reported only about $7,000 in his campaign account after the primary.

His campaign headquarters has remained active, but his efforts have proven low-key except for a few motorcade campaign swings through the East Side.

Masiello, meanwhile, continues raising funds. He held a $100-per-person fund-raising event in the Tralfamadore in downtown Buffalo Tuesday night.

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