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Western New York’s Republican leaders are drawing up their battle plans as they prepare for the special election to fill former Congressman Chris Lee’s seat in Washington.

GOP leaders interviewed eight candidates for the job in Batavia yesterday. Among them were Erie County Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, the unofficial favorite for the job; and Jack Davis, a businessman from Clarence who has run on the Democratic ticket three times before, and lost.

Genesee County Clerk Don Read, a member of the selection committee, says the Erie County candidates do have an advantage.

"(The selection committee) has been an extremely good working group," says Read. "The chairmen from our counties tend to work together very well; a lot of discussion and comments on the different candidates.

"But, I would say, certainly...those from Erie County may have a slight advantage in having that larger percentage of the vote."

Due to population sizes and the weighted voting system used in the 26th Congressional District, the votes of the Erie and Niagara county chairmen would outweigh those of Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming and Monroe counties, combined.

Read says two Batavians were also interviewed:. They are local author David Bellavia, and Iraq war vet and Batavia businessman Peter O'Brien. Others in the pool were Brian Napoli, from Orleans County; Gary Wheat of Avon; and Kathy Wepner, a radio talk show host in Buffalo.

Read says all of the candidates bring a unique flavor to the table.

"A lot depends upon the discussions that we have as a follow-up to the interviews," says Read, "but a good cross-section and representation of people, really, that we interviewed. There certainly are some good candidates in there."

The GOP hopes to have their candidate picked within the next few days.


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