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Wroblewski in danger of losing race

The Erie County Legislature, its ranks already diluted by the retirement of nearly half its lawmakers, may have lost another incumbent Tuesday in the biggest shake-up ever on the Legislature.

Legislator Timothy M. Wroblewski, a West Seneca Democrat, was the only incumbent in danger of losing his primary race despite expectations that several more legislators would be ousted as part the great "tax revolt of 2005."

The only other incumbent who came close to losing was Legislature Chairman George A. Holt Jr., who was leading a field of seven candidates by fewer than 100 votes.

"I'm thankful for the people who supported me," Holt said Tuesday night in claiming victory.

In contrast to Holt, Erie County's two other legislative leaders appeared to have won by bigger margins.

"This was quite a fight," said Majority Leader Lynn M. Marinelli, who was leading challenger Joseph Kennedy by about 550 votes.

Minority Leader Michael H. Ranzenhofer, a Clarence Republican, also seemed destined for victory over his primary opponent John Schrock.

Based on incomplete and unofficial results, here's how the races shape up:

> 1st District

Lackawanna Councilman Daniel M. Kozub is now the front runner in the race to succeed incumbent Edward J. Kuwik of Lackawanna.

Kozub finished first, with 1,417 votes, among four Democrats, including former Legislator Gregory B. Olma of Buffalo, who had 312 votes.

Olma finished last behind second-place finisher Thomas J. Jackson of Hamburg, a former West Seneca coach and school administrator, with 1,110, and Dennis Bigaj, who works for the West Seneca Central School District, with 414.

Kozub will face Republican Gary C. Pufpaff in the general election.

Independence Party voters also picked a nominee, Jackson, from a field that included Ford Beckwith and William F. Koch.

> 2nd District

One of the Legislature's newest members, Democrat Timothy M. Kennedy, won his primary race against fellow Democrat Paul V. Sullivan, a former streets commissioner in Buffalo.

Kennedy, 28, ran as a reformer and, during the campaign, emphasized that he didn't take office until last December and never voted on any budgets that preceded the county's fiscal meltdown.

Every chance he got, Sullivan, 46, reminded people that Kennedy is still the incumbent on a legislature that many people believe is to blame for the budget crisis. Kennedy had 3,659 votes to Sullivan's 2,017.

Republican Julieanne Mazurkiewicz will face Kennedy in the general election.

> 3rd District

Holt, a legislator since 1993 and chairman since 2004, was winning a tight election against six Democratic challengers.

With most of the vote counted, Holt was beating former Common Council member Barbara Miller-Williams by 94 votes -- 1,576 to 1,482.

Trailing behind both Holt and Miller-Williams were Buffalo Community Services Commissioner Donald O. Allen (1,132), weekly newspaper publisher Ronald H. Fleming (520), John E. Hemphill (127), James E. Payne (230) and Kenneth A. Pryor (251).

During the campaign, Holt had to defend his leadership role during the budget crisis and explain an FBI investigation into his sponsorship of a no-bid contract during the chaotic 2004 budget.

In the Independence Party primary, Holt was losing to Fleming by only two votes.

Holt's Republican opponent in November is Samuel A. Herbert.

> 4th District

Ranzenhofer, the Republican leader of the Legislature, was winning his primary race by a 2-to-1 margin. He had 990 votes, but with only half the votes counted.

If he wins, the 16-year incumbent will face the same opponent in the general election. John Schrock, a 44-year old political newcomer, had 484 votes. He already has the Democratic nomination.

Ranzenhofer, 51, also is endorsed by the Conservative Party.

> 6th District

Democrat Maria P. Whyte was the clear winner in the crowded race to succeed retiring Legislator Albert DeBenedetti.

With about 90 percent of the vote counted, Whyte, director of the Coalition of Economic Justice and the endorsed Democratic candidate, was well ahead of her four Democratic challengers with 1,762 votes.

Her opponents are former Common Council Member Robert Quintana (662), Caleb P. Basiliko (784), preservationist Timothy A. Tielman (685) and Louis D. Turchiarelli (601).

In the Independence Party primary, Whyte was losing to Tielman. The winners will face Republican Joseph Totaro.

> 7th District

Incumbent Democrat Demone A. Smith won his party's primary against the Rev. Robert E. Baines, pastor of Zion Missionary Baptist Church, by 3,057 to 2,391.

Republican Chris W. Brown Jr. will face Smith in November.

> 9th District

One of the outcomes that remained in doubt Tuesday night was the race between Wroblew-ski, a one-term incumbent, and fellow Democrat Cynthia E. Locklear.

With about 25 percent of the votes counted, Locklear, a lawyer, was beating Wroblewski, 361 to 227. A large portion of the uncounted votes are paper ballots that will be counted later.

The winner will face Republican Thomas J. Brooks in November.

> 10th District

In the race to succeed longtime Legislator Charles M. Swanick, Democrat Michele M. Iannello won her primary race while Republican Bruce A. Kaiser held a slight lead over his opponent.

Iannello, a Kenmore Village Trustee, beat Democrat Thomas L. Troy, 1,143 to 542. But the race between Kaiser, 52, and Rus Thompson, 49, a Grand Island contractor and carpenter, was much closer.

With less than half the vote counted, Kaiser was beating Thompson, 874 to 753.

In the Conservative Party primary, Kaiser beat Iannello.

> 11th District

In one of the Legislature's most hotly contested races, Marinelli beat back a serious challenge from Kennedy, a small business owner, 2,555 to 1,973.

Marinelli, 43, a 10-year veteran of the legislature, ran on her record despite the wave of anti-incumbency this year.

She will face Republican Brian H. Krauss in November.

> 12th District

One of the closest races of the day featured endorsed Democrat Robert B. Reynolds, 51, against Richard A. Mack.

Reynolds, 51, a local vice president of the United Auto Workers, was winning by a slight margin. With about eight of 36 districts counted, Reynolds was ahead, 177 to 174.

Win or lose, Reynolds has the Independence, Conservative and Working Families lines.

Mack, 39, is owner and publisher of the Riverside Review weekly newspaper. On the Republican line, James Liegl, a retired podiatrist, was beating Janet L. Schumer, a dentist, 266 to 265. But again, that's with eight districts counted.

The general election winner will succeed Republican Legislator Jeanne Z. Chase of Eden, who decided not to seek a third term.

> 13th District

The only primary race in this district was for the Conservative Party line. The race between John J. Mills and Patrick J. Keem was too close to call, with Mills getting 28 to Keem's 22.

The major party candidates are Republican John J. Mills and Democrat Suzann M. Cushman.

> 14th District

Thomas A. Loughran, a Republican turned Democrat, won his party's nomination in the race to succeed Republican Legislator Elise Cusack of Amherst.

Loughran, a former Amherst Town Board member and well-known bar owner, switched parties so he could run for Cusack's seat. He defeated Democrat Laura L. Perfetto, 963 to 749, a small-business owner making her first bid for public office.

Loughran will run against Republican David P. Lipinoga in November.

e-mail: pfairbanks@buffnews.com

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