Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan knocked off two Democratic challengers Thursday night in a primary election that will likely send him back to Albany to represent the new 149th Assembly District.
Ryan brought in a decisive victory with 64 percent of the vote with 78 of the 79 districts reporting. Kevin P. Gaughan had 29 percent, while Joseph A. Mascia had 7 percent.
Ryan, 47, will have the inside track to winning the seat in November after taking the three-way Democratic primary. There is no Republican candidate in November.
"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 tonight. "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."
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."