Paladino was from there and is apparently a household name there.
This. His whole political campaign was heavily based in the Erie/Niagara area. You couldn't go down the streets in the suburbs without seeing a sea of Paladino signs. He's a big develepor in this area, and already has some name recognition around here.
Plus, people in Western NY feel neglected because the states main focus is downstate. If someone comes along from the area, who knows that Niagara Falls needs attention, and has some actual knowledge about Buffalo and the surrounding area, people look to them around here.