By Janice L. Habuda
Republican Raymond W. Walter edged Democratic challenger Craig R. Bucki in the special election for the seat representing the state's 148th Assembly District.
Walter, also running on the Conservative and Independence lines, bested Bucki, also running on the Working Families line, in Niagara County by a vote of 985 to 655, or 60.1 percent to 39.4 percent, with all districts reporting.
But in the more heavily populated Erie County, the race was much closer. Walter won with 51 percent of the vote (15,217) compared to 49 percent for Bucki (14,656).
Walter ran on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines. He will finish the year remaining in the term of Amherst Republican James P. Hayes, who resigned Sept. 6 for a private-sector job in financial planning.
The seat will be on the ballot again next year, for a full two-year term.
The Assembly's Republican Campaign Committee pumped more than $50,000 into Walter's campaign, for what was the only Assembly race in the state.
A win by Bucki would have put Assembly membership at 100 Democrats and 50 Republicans, meaning Democrats could have overriden a veto without needing the help of Republicans. Democrats are down from their supermajority status of 109 members just two years ago.
Political newcomer Bucki, 29, received an endorsement from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
Walter, 39, remains the Erie County Legislature's 4th District representative through year's end. He was appointed to fill the Erie County Legislature seat vacated in January 2009 by Michael Ranzenhofer, who was elected to a two-year State Senate term that November.
Both Walter and Bucki live in East Amherst and are attorneys: Walter, who works for Magavern Magavern Grimm, specializes in elder law; Bucki focuses on government operations for Phillips Lytle.
Their platforms were similar, beginning with tackling unfunded state mandates and including their support of investment in UB 2020 expansion plans.
The Towns of Amherst and Pendleton, and the Martinsville section of North Tonawanda comprise the 148th district.
With the length of their campaigns limited to approximately two months, both candidates relied heavily on door-to-door campaigning to introduce themselves and their campaign platforms to voters.
But they made themselves known to a wider audience in the last few days before the election, debating live during a local radio program and through ads that hit the airwaves.
The Buffalo News