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May 23, 2008

ELECTION 2008: Cole’s GOP line grab stuns party pros

Incumbent state Assemblyman Michael Cole, R-Alden, defied the odds and landed the Republican nomination in a 142nd District nominating convention Wednesday night.

Cole, who suffered professional damage after a scandal involving an intern last year, bested Jane Corwin, the pick of Erie and Niagara counties’ GOP executive committees, in weighted secret balloting among members of the counties’ party committees. The unpublicized convention was held at Montgomery Park retirement community in East Amherst. By the rules, committeemen could vote for Cole or Corwin, only.

Corwin, a wealthy Clarence businesswoman supported by GOP Erie County Executive Christopher Collins, kicked off her Republican campaign last month at stops including downtown Lockport, where city and town officials participated — and Niagara County GOP Committee Chairman Henry Wojtaszek declared her to be the only viable candidate.

Cole fairly crowed about his convention win Thursday. He called the result “huge” and said he owed it to rank-and-file committee support that defied executive attempts to dismiss him.

“This race isn’t about political insiders and party bosses, and it’s not about campaign bank accounts,” Cole said. “The people of Western New York want a representative in Albany who knows what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet.”

The result is possibly a loss of face for city and town of Lockport officials who stepped up to second Corwin’s nomination — and cause for celebration by Royalton town GOP committee chairman Robert Johnston, who seconded Cole’s nomination.

“I like underdogs,” Johnston said. “Mike Cole is a good man. He’s done whatever the Town of Royalton asked of him. When we need his help, he’s there. He’s done a good job.”

By contrast, Mayor Michael Tucker said, he supported Corwin because he thinks Cole is rendered powerless by the Legislative punishment that followed his winter 2007 admission of impropriety involving an intern.

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