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Higgins Tops Four Others in 27th District Primary

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – State Assemblyman Brian Higgins won the Democratic primary in the 27th congressional district Tuesday. He now goes on to face Republican Nancy Naples in the November election.

To the strains of Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising," Brian Higgins ascended the stage at the Ellicott Square Building Tuesday night to thunderous applause. He defeated four other candidates to win the primary -- West Seneca Town Supervisor Paul Clark, Chautauqua County Executive Mark Thomas and attorneys Michael Collesano and Peter Crotty.

Higgins immediately zeroed in on what he sees as his advantage over Nancy Naples -- his legislative experience.

"Buffalo and Western New York needs an impact player in Congress," Higgins said. "I submit to you that based on my record, I can be that impact player on behalf of the working men and women of Western New York."

The general election campaign is a re-run of the 1993 race for Erie County Comptroller where Naples defeated Higgins. County Democratic Party Chairman Len Lenihan acknowledges it will be a difficult campaign. But this time, Lenihan says the outcome will be different.

"Brian is on the right side of the issues," Lenihan said. "He's an axciting legislator. He's highly rated. Frankly, his opponent Nancy Naples favors the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. At a time when they're talking about cutting Social Security, that's going to hurt her."

In West Seneca, the mood was more subdued as Paul Clark conceded defeat before friends and supporters. He came in second in the five-man race. Clark spent heavily in hopes of overtaking Higgins and says it was well worth it.

"I had a really pleasant experience," Clark said. "The results at the end were disappointing. But the process was wonderful. I wouldn't change a thing."

Clark says he will support Higgins in the race to succeed the retiring Jack Quinn.

State Senator John "Randy" Kuhl beat Mark Assini of Rochester in the Republican primary for the 29th Congressional District seat now held by retiring Congressman Amo Houghton. Samara Barend, a former campaign aide to Senator Hillary Clinton, won the Democratic primary in that district.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter also emerged as the Democratic winner in her party primary. The incumbent defeated Francina Cartonia, a former director of traffic safety education in Buffalo.