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Coppola shuns minor lines in State Senate bid

Democrat Marc A. Coppola is attempting to return to the State Senate this fall and wants no help from minor parties an almost unprecedented move in local and state politics.

Coppola, who won a special election to the Senate in 2006 only to lose in the Democratic primary later that year, is now the endorsed Democratic candidate to face Republican incumbent Michael H. Ranzenhofer of Amherst in the 61st Senate District.

But Coppola, formerly of Buffalo and now of the Town of Tonawanda, said he will not seek the Independence, Conservative or Working Families lines and will work to end "fusion" voting in the state.

If he gets his way, only official members can represent their parties on the ballot, ending the practice of minor parties usually nominating Democrats or Republicans. "We're in just a small minority of states that still engage in it," he said. "[The minor parties] hold a disproportionate amount of influence, and it's high time we get away from this breeding ground for corruption."

As Buffalo's Delaware Council member for six years and in his brief stint in the Senate, Coppola said, he "fell into the trap" of seeking support from minor parties. But he said he has come to believe that minor party leaders are intent mostly on gaining financially or politically, citing investigations of the Working Families and Independence parties under way in New York City.

"It's turned into a shell game for a small group of leaders who benefit financially or through patronage," he said, adding he will challenge Ranzenhofer during the campaign to also pass on minor-party backing.

Coppola, 42, works as special assistant to the state Parole Board chairman. He said he does not have to resign his job to run. Though he formerly represented the 60th District in a seat now occupied by Democrat Antoine M. Thompson, he has lived in the 61st District for the last three years.

e-mail: rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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