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Ideologies compete in House race

Three months ago, no one could have imagined the political intrigue now playing out in Western New York.

Who could have envisioned Amherst Republican Chris Lee, aka "the shirtless congressman," abruptly resigning from office?

And who could have foreseen two of the region's most prominent women -- Jane L. Corwin and Kathy C. Hochul -- going toe to toe for the right to succeed him?

And then there's Jack Davis, the millionaire businessman, who after getting shut out by the the Republicans and Democrats, embarked on an independent campaign for a seat he first sought in 2004.

Today, The Buffalo News takes a look at all three candidates for the 26th Congressional District seat and finds that they are more than just politicians. Each of them has a different story for how they got to where they are now.

For Corwin, it's a journey that started with the family business, the Talking Phone Book, and eventually catapulted her into politics when she saw the region's problems getting worse, not better.

"Why isn't the situation getting better?" said the Republican state assemblywoman. "I looked at the government's policies and saw that our policies are causing more and more people to have hardships and to need more."

For Hochul, politics and public service are simply the latest chapter in a lifetime of activism, a passion she acquired from her mother and father and cultivated as a student at Syracuse University.

"It's something that's part of my being, part of how I was raised," said the Erie County clerk, a Democrat. "My parents instilled in me an obligation to do something for your community and serve."

Davis, the Akron industrialist, is making his fourth run for the seat and once again building his candidacy around the belief that free trade must be curbed in order to restore the nation's economic greatness. And he's vowing to spend upward of $3 million of his own money to make the case.

"I don't enjoy spending money like that," he said. "I keep my Easter candy till July and my Halloween candy till Christmas. But I am making an investment in my children's and your children's future. I figure it's money well-spent."

Jane L. Corwin

Age: 47

Residence: Clarence

Education: University at Albany, bachelor's; Pace University, MBA

Occupation: Assembly member

Experience: vice president and secretary-treasurer, Talking Phone Book; financial analyst, Henry Ansbacher Inc. in New York City

Family: Married to Philip Corwin; mother of three

Name: Kathleen C. Hochul

Age: 52

Residence: Hamburg

Education: Syracuse University, bachelor's; Catholic University, law degree.

Occupation: Erie County clerk.

Experience: Deputy county clerk; Hamburg Town Board member; counsel and aide to Rep. John J. LaFalce and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan; attorney in Washington, D.C.

Family: Married to U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr.; mother of two.

Name: Jack Davis

Age: 78

Residence: Akron

Education: University at Buffalo, bachelor of science in engineering.

Occupation: Owner and president, I Squared R Element Co. Inc., Newstead.

Experience: Entrepreneur, philanthropist, four-time congressional candidate

Family: Married to Barbara Gress; father of six.