- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York’s most contested legislative race is in Buffalo, where voters will choose among four lawyers in the 60th Senate District that includes part of the city and suburbs north and south.

Republican, Democratic and Conservative Party candidates are on the ballot, plus the incumbent who has been all those and is running now only on the Independence line.

Control of the 63-seat Senate is also hotly contested this fall, and the switch of one or two seats will determine whether Democrats or Republicans are in control.

Sen. Mark Grisanti said he’s not sure whom he’ll align with if re-elected and his goal is to keep projects and money heading to western New York.

“Wherever I feel that is in the best position for me to represent my district as fully as possible,” Grisanti told The Associated Press. He caucused the past four years with the Republicans, who formed a majority coalition with a handful of breakaway Democrats. “Nobody wants to be in a minority position.”

Grisanti was one of four senators who broke Republican ranks and voted with Democrats to pass Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011. He’s the last of the four still in the Legislature. He also voted for Cuomo’s gun control law two years ago, another vote that cost him support among conservatives, but said he doesn’t regret either. He pushed for protections for religious organizations in the marriage bill and for tougher penalties for illegal firearms and school funding for security measures in the gun bill, he said.

Cuomo said this week that he hasn’t decided whether to endorse Grisanti.

Kevin Stocker, who beat Grisanti for the Republican nomination, said he won’t be beholden to any political bosses or officials, only constituents. After losing to Grisanti in a primary two years ago, he said he visited 18,000 houses in the district and has received only some small donations. He emphasized Second Amendment rights and said the recent gun law makes no sense. Among other provisions, it outlawed New York sales of certain semi-automatic weapons and large-capacity magazines.

“The voters don’t want the party labels. They don’t want the corruption the political party bosses offer,” Stocker said. “I will have no friends when it comes to party bosses and other elected officials.”

Marc Panepinto says he’s a good Democrat in a majority Democratic district. His wife is a state Supreme Court justice elected four years ago to a 14-year term. Panepinto won the Democratic and Working Families Party lines.

“We have to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. We have to put an end to corporate welfare. We have to stop the privatization of public education. And we’ve got the pass the Women’s Equality Act,” Panepinto said. That last measure divided Democrats favoring all 10 provisions from Republicans who opposed the provision to codify abortion rights in New York.

Erie County Conservative Party Chairman Ralph Lorigo said they decided to put Timothy Gallagher, a member of their executive board, on the ballot as a clear representative of the party’s values though he’s not been actively campaigning so far.

“I’m in it till the end,” Gallagher said Thursday. “If they ask me to step it up, I’m more than happy to.”

Grisanti’s and Panepinto’s positions effectively disqualified them, and Stocker didn’t seek the Conservative nomination, Lorigo said. The party members feel the recent gun law is “an abomination” and the provision in the women’s equality bill to allow late-term abortions removes protections for the fetus.

“What we’re all about is simply traditional values - less government, less taxation, less government interference in people’s lives,” Lorigo said. “You can’t send mixed messages.”

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