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LaFalce Downplays Retirement, Houghton Loses Chautauqua

By Mark Scott

Washington, DC – Congressman John LaFalce is downplaying a report in Friday's Buffalo News that he may choose to retire rather than run against fellow Rochester Democrat Louise Slaughter. The two were thrown into the same district under a congressional redistricting plan approved by the State Legislature and signed by Governor Pataki this week.

Asked about retirement, LaFalce spokesman Gary Luczak told the News, "All (LaFalce's) options are open, and he is playing this thing very close to the vest."

"I am planning to run for re-election," LaFalce later asserted in a statement released to WBFO News. "But (I) will refrain from making a formal announcement until the court makes up its mind whether to accept, reject or modify the State Legislative plan."

At the same time, LaFalce confirmed that he has initiated an aggressive media campaign airing in the Rochester market that highlights his legislative record.

Also according to this morning’s News, sources close to county Democratic chairman Steven Pigeon say that in a battle between the two incumbents whose districts are being merged, he would endorse Slaughter because of her record on labor and women’s issues.

Meantime, Representative Amory Houghton, R-Corning, is breathing a sigh of relief now that the redistricting process appears to be over. Early on, his district was the one targeted for elimination. But an intensive lobbying campaign in Albany saved the district, except for Chautauqua County.

"I had hoped that Chautauqua wouldn't get lopped off," Houghton said. "I knew we had to pick up people, and I knew we either had to go east or north. But I wish I didn't lose Chautauqua."

But Houghton tried to reassure his Chautauqua County constituents by saying they'll be left in good hands if they vote for fellow moderate Republican Jack Quinn. Quinn's mainly Buffalo district will now extend south into Chautauqua under the new plan.