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Eight vie for GOP nod in potential congressional race

By Howard B. Owens

Eight congressional hopefuls filed into South Beach restaurant on Sunday to explain to 21 GOP leaders from the 26th Congressional District why he or she should get the endorsement of the Republican Party in any upcoming special election.

Though no election has been called yet by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it's widely anticipated that Cuomo will set a date for a special election to fill the seat vacated by Chris Lee after a shirtless picture of him showed up on

Don Read, representing Genesee County, said GOP officials will meet tonight in Geneseo to go over the list and decide whom the party should back.

"A lot depends on our discussion," Read said. "We have a good cross section (of candidates). There's certainly a good group of candidates."

Besides Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, who is the odds-on favorite of pundits, three-time loser Jack Davis showed up for an interview, as did Genesee County residents David Bellavia and Peter O'Brien.

O'Brien is a frequent commenter on The Batavian.

Also showing an interest in the seat for the GOP are: Dr. Barry Weinstein, a former Town of Amherst councilman; Brian Napoli, from Orleans County; Gary Wehate, of Avon; and Kathy Wepner, a radio talk-show host in Buffalo.

In the weighted vote system the GOP uses to pick candidates for the congressional seat, Erie County candidates have an edge in the selection process. It only takes one Erie County vote and one Niagara County vote to outweigh the votes of Orleans, Wyoming, Genesee and Monroe counties.

Story based on reporting by WBTA's Dan Fischer.

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