This morning, I want to set the stage for the campaign muddle voters face across the North Country.
Folks in our region are getting their first look at the newly drawn political boundaries created by New York’s LATFOR commission and approved by lawmakers in Albany, along with Governor Andrew Cuomo and the courts.
Put bluntly, it’s a bit of a mess. A lot of stray details, weird lines, and some baffling districts, but three distinct themes emerge.
-Last year’s same-sex marriage vote in Albany is echoing in the North Country, affecting at least three Republican primary contests.
-It’s a bit surprising that Democrats haven’t made more of a race of it in 2012. Despite incumbent retirements and redistricting, and despite strong polling in or region for the Democratic governor, most Republicans across the region face only token opposition.
-St. Lawrence County really did get hammered in the redistricting process. The 121,000 people who live there are divided up between no fewer than seven state Senate and Assembly districts.
Now to the details.
NY-21: Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) vs. challenger Matt Doheny (R-Watertown)
This is a rematch of the 2010 vote, though the west-central chunk of New York that once made up part of the old NY-23 district has been lopped off, replaced with a bloc of voters around Glens Falls. This is a big fight, with Doheny hoping to reclaim territory once considered bedrock Republican. Most national pundits still rank this as “leaning” Democratic, and Owens has scrambled to establish a center-moderate voting record, but without a third party Conservative distraction this is a much tougher fight for the incumbent. Don Hassig from St. Lawrence County is running on the Green Party line.
State Senate Races: Five Republican powerhouses hope to hold the North Country
The legislature saw fit to divide the North Country into at least four — and arguably five — state Senate districts. (And yes, three of them poke into St. Lawrence County.)
It’s still a little unclear whether any of these races will turn into some sort of contest in the general election (not a lot of big name Democrats stepping forward).
-43rd District (Saratoga, Rensselaer, Columbia) Sen. Roy McDonald (R-Saratoga) is locked in a fierce primary battle with Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione, a party revolt sparked in large part by his vote in favor of same sex marriage. The winner of that September face-off will meet Claverack Town Supervisor Robin Andrews, the Democrat, in November.
-45th District (St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Warren, Washington) Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) is unopposed.
-47th District (St. Lawrence, Herkimer, Oneida) Sen. Joe Griffo (R-Rome) is unopposed.
-48th District. (St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Oswego) Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Oswegatchie) faces Democratic challenger Amy Tresidder, a county legislator from Oswego.
-49th District. (Hamilton, Herkimer, Fulton, Saratoga, Schenectady) Sen. Hugh Farley (R-Schenectady), faces Democrat Madelyn Thorne, a newcomer to politics who is director of pastoral care at a nursing home in Glendale, NY.
Assembly checkerboard: Six new districts for voters to navigate
The LATFOR map divides the North Country into six Assembly districts. If that sounds like a lot to keep track of, it’s even worse in St. Lawrence County which is filleted into no fewer than four Assembly seats.
That’s either a lot of representation or not much at all. Here are some highlights of the races were watching:
-ASSEMBLY 113 (Saratoga, Washington County) Assemblyman Tony Jordan (R-Jackson) a former Washington County assistant DA, faces Round Lake Trustee Carrie Woerner, a Democrat. Woerner has reportedly donated $20,000 to her own campaign, suggesting that this might turn into a race.
-Assembly 114 (Essex, Warren, Washington, Saratoga) Republican assemblywoman Teresa Sayward helped to shepherd same-sex marriage legislation through the legislature, then decided not to run for re-election. Republican Dan Stec, the Queensbury town supervisor, shouldered aside his GOP opposition. He faces Glens Falls attorney and Democrat Dennis Tarantino, who fell short in past tries against Sayward. Derek Java, an adjunct professor at SUNY Adirondack is running as a Green Party candidate.
-Assembly 115 (Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence): Moderate Republican Assemblywoman Janet Duprey from Peru is locked in another primary match-up with Conservative Republican David Kimmel (Cadyville). Her strong support for same sex marriage has long angered some party members, but so far she’s turned aside right-leaning GOP challengers. Also on the primary ballot is Karen Bisso (Morrisonville), which could divide opposition to Duprey. The winner of the Republican contest will face Timothy Carpenter, a city councillor from Plattsburgh.
-Assembly 116 (St. Lawrence, Jefferson Co. “River” District) Democratic incumbent Addie Russell is running unopposed.
-Assembly 117 (St. Lawrence, Lewis, Jefferson, Oneida) Ken Blankenbush (R-Black River) is running unopposed.
-Assembly 118 (St Lawrence, Herkimer, Hamilton, Fulton, Oneida) Incumbent Mark Butler (R-Newport) faces Joe Chilelli (D-Herkimer), a Herkimer County legislator.
So there you go. The NY-21 race is obviously the big bout on this year’s fight card, but there are some fascinating GOP primary races to watch, and we may see a Democrat or two giving Republicans a real race.
There’s a lot of information here. Anything I missed? Things I got wrong? Chime in below.