Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan knocked off two Democratic challengers Thursday night, while former East Aurora Mayor David J. DiPietro appeared to edge out a win in a four-way Republican primary in an Assembly district that spans southern Erie and Wyoming counties.
Ryan, 47, will have the inside track to return to Albany after winning a three-way Democratic primary that pitted him against Kevin P. Gaughan and Joseph A. Mascia.
"We ran a campaign that talked about the issues that were important to Western New Yorkers," Ryan said from his campaign headquarters on Delaware Avenue. "And that's education, economic development and waterfront development. Those are the issues that are important to Western New York Democrats, and they responded tonight by returning me to office."
Ryan brought in a decisive victory with 64 percent of the vote with 78 of the 79 districts reporting. Gaughan had 29 percent, while Joseph A. Mascia had 7 percent.
Mascia, 67, will appear on the Conservative line in the November election, a ballot position from which it will be tough to win in the heavily Democratic district.
"It's just a tremendous feeling," Ryan said of the primary win. "Last year was my first run, and the challenge always was, 'well, can you hold the seat because someone with a name is going to come after you,' and that was right."
Gaughan, an attorney and civic activist who has built name recognition during a downsizing crusade in recent years, said he tried to run his six-month campaign effort with a "sense of purpose and dignity." He called running for office a "profound education."
"Here's what I learned today and throughout this campaign," Gaughan said, "Western New York is the greatest community in America. There's no place like us."
Ryan won a seat in the Assembly a year ago in a special election after Sam Hoyt left the State Legislature to take a top state economic development job.
Ryan, who grew up in Lackawanna but now lives in Buffalo, won the primary in a district that looked dramatically different than the area he currently represents. The newly redrawn 149th Assembly District will represent portions of Buffalo's West Side, downtown and the waterfront, as well as sections of Lackawanna and the Town of Hamburg.
He said that had a big impact on his campaign.
"Thirty percent of the district is brand new," Ryan said. "I had to go introduce myself to a lot of people in Hamburg. I had to reintroduce myself to a lot of people in Lackawanna."
DiPietro appeared to emerge the winner of a four-way contest for the Republican line in the November election in a district that spans southern Erie County and all of Wyoming County.
DiPietro called the campaign a "total grassroots effort."
"It was a hard-fought victory," DiPietro said Thursday night. "Both sides battled right to the end. Now's the time to unify our party."
DiPietro, former East Aurora mayor, will face Christina M. Abt, an Independence Party member who will run on the Democratic, Independence and Working Families lines in the general election in the heavily Republican district.
With 97 percent of polling places reporting, DiPietro had 44 percent with 2,510 votes. David P. Mariacher had 38 percent with 2,194 votes.
"I'd like to thank all the grassroot efforts, from Carl Paladino down to all the volunteers who helped me," DiPietro said.
Daniel J. Humiston, best known as the founder of Tanning Bed Inc. and for a 2008 Congressional run, had 13 percent with 739 votes. Political newcomer Christopher Lane, of East Aurora, had 5 percent with 282 votes.
DiPietro received a boost from Paladino, who endorsed him early in the campaign.
The newly drawn district represents the southern portions of Erie County and all of Wyoming County. The district includes 10 towns currently represented by Assemblyman Kevin S. Smardz, a Hamburg Republican who announced in June he would not seek re-election.
An election for an Independence line in the 146th Assembly District between Raymond W. Walter and Joanne A. Schultz was too close to call at press time. In Erie County, the two shared 50 percent of the votes with 32 of the 38 districts reporting.