NIAGARA FALLS - State Sen. George D. Maziarz took a step toward winning his 10th term Thursday as he repulsed the challenge of tea party-backed Johnny G. Destino in a Republican primary in the 62nd District.
Maziarz was leading Destino, 67 percent to 33 percent, with 86 percent of the vote tallied in Niagara County. Maziarz also had strong results in the Monroe County portion of the district, where he carried 64 percent of the vote, and in Orleans County, where he rolled up 82 percent. Returns from the latter two counties were complete but unofficial.
"It's an overwhelming victory. I appreciate everybody's support, and I look forward to November," Maziarz said. The Newfane Republican moves on to the general election against Democratic nominee Amy Hope Witryol, whom Maziarz routed in 2010.
However, the district now includes all of the City of Niagara Falls, giving the Democrats an enrollment edge of about 5,000 voters across the district.
"I've always had a lot of crossover appeal to Democrats in my district," Maziarz said. "I work hard all year-round. My late father told me, 'Work hard in the years you're not running for election, and it'll pay off in the years you are running for election.'?"
Witryol, of Lewiston, won a Working Families Party primary by a 2-to-1 ratio over Timothy D. Moriarty of North Tonawanda, who returned no media calls during the campaign. He was regarded by the Democrats as a "stalking horse" candidate whose candidacy allegedly was inspired by the Republicans to try to prevent Witryol from having a second line on the ballot.
Destino, an attorney and Niagara Falls Board of Education member who narrowly lost a bid for mayor last November, had some success in his home city but unofficially did not carry a single precinct elsewhere, despite mass mailings of anti-Maziarz material by Carl P. Paladino, the Buffalo developer and 2010 GOP candidate for governor.
Paladino's political action committee, Turning Albany Upside Down, was Destino's largest campaign contributor, with a total of $2,940. Mailings with Paladino's name on them never mentioned Destino, devoting themselves entirely to attacks on Maziarz.
"Carl would prefer the Republican Senate not work with Gov. [Andrew M.] Cuomo. If the governor says black, he wants us to say white," Maziarz said. "I supported [Paladino] for governor. I supported Johnny Destino for mayor. Twelve months ago, Johnny Destino sought me out for my support for mayor. . Twelve months later, I'm evil."
In local Niagara County races, Republican Wayne D. Pollow was the big winner over a veteran Niagara Falls police detective, Patrick F. Stack, in a batch of six primaries for Porter town justice.
Pollow, a retired employee of the town Water and Highway departments and a fire police lieutenant in the Ransomville Volunteer Fire Company, won the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Green Party primaries. Stack, a registered Democrat, won that party's nod by a 156-to-141 margin. The Working Families race was a scoreless tie, leaving the choice up to party leaders.
In Royalton, a four-way contest for town justice ended with mixed results.
The contenders were Councilman James G. Budde, a member of the Independence Party; former Justice Deborah A. Carpenter, a Republican; Laura A. Wagner, a Republican who works as an attorney for the county Social Services Department; and Robert A. Wilson, a Republican and a restaurant manager.
In the GOP primary, the only one in which all four candidates were entered, Budde and Wagner finished tied with 179 votes apiece, while Carpenter trailed with 123 and Wilson with 39.
As of Tuesday, 22 absentee ballots had been received at the Board of Elections; they won't be opened until later this month.
Budde won the Democratic and Conservative primaries; Carpenter won the Independence race; and Wagner won the Working Families and Green races.
There was a Republican primary for District 4 coroner, which was tantamount to election since no Democrat entered that race. Richard W. Rutland, a Newfane funeral director appointed to the post in June by the County Legislature, defeated Alan F. Baird, a retired Lewiston police officer.