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Panepinto departure opens the door for Ryan, Small, Jacobs

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

Western New Yorkers will be dealing with that rarest of political prizes in the State Legislature: an open seat following Senator Marc Panepinto's decision to not run for a second term.

Democrats now have to find a replacement and State Assemblyman Sean Ryan is the first name on every pol's lips because his district includes much of the Senate district and the Buffalo Democrat is already expressing interest in the seat.

"Assemblyman Ryan is interested. I know that Amber Small, who's a candidate already, is interested," said Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner.

"I'm hearing names like Councilmember Lisa Chimera from the Town of Tonawanda, Legislator Peter Savage in the City of Buffalo and Chairman Mike Quinn who is also a councilmember in Hamburg."

Panepinto leaving the race and potentially Ryan stepping in doesn't mean Small is pulling out.

"I'm committed to this race. I launched my campaign over a month ago," Small said. 

"In that time, I've spoken to hundreds of community residents and leaders in our community and I hope to earn their backing in my candidacy. I'm running because we have a void right now and I think that we can fill that void with someone such as myself who is a public servant for our community."

Republican Langworthy says it's a difficult race for his party because the district is heavily Democratic and sprawls across Erie County, from the Niagara County line to Brant. Nonetheless, a major fight could develop.

Credit Mike Desmond/wbfo news
Erie County Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy wants County Clerk Chris Jacobs to run for Marc Panepinto's Senate seat.

"I'm strongly urging Chris Jacobs to run for the State Senate," Langworthy said. Jacobs currently serves as Erie County Clerk.

"I think he'd be an excellent senator and a great candidate for us to run. We might very well be sitting on the seat here in Buffalo that is the balance of power in the New York State Senate and the entire chamber might pivot on this seat."