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Democrats name El-Behairy to face Jacobs in state Senate race

Erie County Democrats have turned to a little-known business consultant to challenge Republican state Sen. Christopher L. Jacobs this fall in a district that often attracted statewide attention and millions of dollars in previous races.

Carima El-Behairy, a Buffalo resident who grew up on Grand Island, has been endorsed by local Democrats, party officials said. She is co-founder of P22 Type Foundry, a software and publishing company. She is also a founding trustee of the Western New York Book Arts Collaborative, Oracle Charter School and the Western New York Charter School Coalition.

“I will take a message of quality education, health care access and affordability, preservation with development, and election reform to Albany,” she said. “I will make a difference for Western New York and for New York State.”

She is supported by the Baker Project, which seeks to increase the number of pro-choice Democratic women in the State Senate. She also serves as treasurer for Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York.

El-Behairy has also been board development chairwoman for the Irish Classical Theatre Company, board fair chairwoman for the Westminster Early Childhood Program, and board merger committee chairwoman for the Art Directors of Buffalo.

The district, with 35,000 more Democrats than Republicans, has drawn major resources in the past from the New York State United Teachers and other entities in an effort to increase the Senate’s Democratic minority. But even with Democrats making a push to achieve the majority this year, El-Behairy’s candidacy is not expected to generate the same statewide enthusiasm in the face of Jacobs’ advantages in money and incumbency.

Other new endorsements include Joe DiPasquale in the 144th Assembly District now represented by Republican Michael J. Norris. Luke Wochensky, an attorney with extensive business experience in Russia, will oppose Republican David J. DiPietro in the 147th Assembly District.

Both Assembly seats have traditionally been regarded as safe for the GOP, though Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner said he is buoyed by Wochensky’s efforts and will be devoting attention to his race.

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