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Taxpayer revolt? Not by voters Given a chance to change how Buffalo, Erie County operate, citizens yawned

No villagers marched with torches.

Despite governments turning to ashes and some of the most incendiary local campaigns in recent history, this week's primary elections failed to draw hordes of irate voters. Turnout was, at best, normal, despite ideal weather. Incumbents, by and large, won, never a good sign for change.

It remains unclear what that says about the depth of the taxpayer revolt that supposedly is changing the face of local politics. For every eligible voter who turned out, about four stayed home. Those who did vote may indeed have been irate -- but they voted like the party faithful, and against wholesale change.

Byron W. Brown won a clear victory in the Buffalo mayoral race, but hardly a ringing public endorsement. He won by about 4,600 votes in a race in which about 25,000 votes were cast. In political conversations, there was more buzz about Republican mayoral candidate Kevin J. Helfer's crucial apparent write-in win of the Conservative Party line. Although there are 90,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the city, Brown's troubling boatload of union endorsements and the chance of a racially polarized vote could trigger an intense and uncertain race.

In the Erie County Legislature, which faces some of the same financial challenges the city must meet, most of the incumbents who chose to seek re-election were given another chance. The single probable exception on election day was one-term incumbent Timothy M. Wrobleweski of West Seneca, who was trailing challenger Cynthia E. Locklear by more than 100 votes with 75 percent of the district votes -- on paper ballots -- to be counted next week. Legislature Chairman George A. Holt Jr. eked out a narrow win over six split-the-opposition-vote challengers. Incumbent legislators Timothy M. Kennedy, Demone A. Smith, Majority Leader Lynn M. Marinelli and Minority Leader Michael H. Ranzenhofer fought spirited races but won wider victory margins.

The battle now moves toward November. But for the September primaries, this much seems likely: If there is a taxpayer revolt, most of the rebels slept in.

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