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Special election set to fill Wirth's seat

Gov. George E. Pataki Thursday scheduled a special election for May 2 to fill the Assembly seat of Sandra Lee Wirth, a veteran Republican who died March 11.

As a result, Republicans Thursday settled on Alden Supervisor Michael Cole as their candidate. Democrats will not meet until early next week to name a candidate.

Erie County Democratic Chairman Leonard R. Lenihan said Jeffrey Bono, who opposed Wirth in 2004, is the front-runner. But he also said consideration will be given to Laura Monte, a member of the Iroquois School Board, and a possible third candidate.

Erie County Independence Chairman Anthony L. Orsini said he also will support Cole, while Conservative Chairman Ralph C. Lorigo said his "strong inclination" is that his party will officially designate Cole on Tuesday.

Cole emerges as the early favorite.

Erie County Republican Chairman Robert E. Davis said five candidates were under consideration as late as Wednesday. They included Cole, Elma Supervisor Michael Nolan, Aurora Supervisor Terry Yarnell, East Aurora Mayor David DiPietro, and former Clarence Council Member Barbara Guida.

Davis said Yarnell exited the competition Wednesday, while Nolan pulled out following a meeting with party leaders Thursday.

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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