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Amedore, Tkaczyk locked in tight race

November 7, 2012
Updated 12:52 a.m.
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Cecilia Tkaczyk meets and greets election workers before voting at the Duanesburg Area Community Center on Tuesday morning.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
Cecilia Tkaczyk meets and greets election workers before voting at the Duanesburg Area Community Center on Tuesday morning.

— Republican state Assemblyman George Amedore Jr. and Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk remained neck-and-neck in the race for the state Senate’s newly-created 46th District, leaving the seat still in play as of midnight.

With preliminary results continuing to come in across the five-county district, neither campaign would concede early this morning. A tally conducted by The Daily Gazette had Tkaczyk leading Amedore by 139 votes with all precincts reporting and the absentee ballots still needing to be counted.

“A district drawn for George Amedore is still up in the air and the votes are still coming in,” said Gary Ginsburg, a spokesman for Tkaczyk.

Kris Thompson, a spokesman for Amedore’s campaign, saw it differently. He said the homebuilder from Rotterdam is confident he’ll be victorious in the end.

The three-term Republican assemblyman had the benefit of name recognition and a new Senate district that was almost tailored for his run. He also had the benefit of having a well-heeled and well-oiled campaign, which raised more than a half-million dollars over six months — more than five times what Tkaczyk’s campaign collected over the same period.

Then everything changed abruptly with a sudden infusion of cash from a pair of New York City-based political action committees. Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and husband Sean Eldridge pledged to spend at least $250,000 to fund mailings for Tkaczyk, while Friends of Democracy — an organization co-founded by billionaire George Soros’ son Jonathan — pumped another $250,000 to buy television ads in support of her campaign. Both said they were supporting Tkaczyk because of her advocacy for publicly financed campaigns.

Still, “We’re confident after the votes are counted George Amedore will be the senator representing that five-county district,” Thompson said.

Other Republicans fared better. Republican Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione emerged victorious in the Senate’s 43rd District after besting Claverack Supervisor Robin Andrews, who ran for the Democrats. The race was also affected by vanquished incumbent Roy McDonald, who garnered a sizeable percentage of the vote running on the Independence Party line even though he stopped actively campaigning a week after Marchione beat him in the Republican primary in September.

McDonald, a two-term senator who was the hand-picked successor to former Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, was ousted by the socially conservative faction of his party after he voted in support of gay marriage in 2011. McDonald ultimately conceded the primary to the 51-year-old Halfmoon woman and then dropped out of the race altogether, despite getting an endorsement from Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

For Marchione, the general election win was the end of a long uphill battle that started with her primary challenge against McDonald. She recalled how some dismissed her candidacy almost immediately after she announced in April.

“When we started the race, people used the word ‘hopeless,’ ” she said from the Republicans’ election headquarters at the Holiday Inn of Saratoga Springs. “We had very limited money, we were being outspent and I was running against an incumbent who served ten years in the Assembly and Senate.”

But after her primary win and McDonald’s departure from the race, Marchione said her path to the Senate seemed to level off. Now, she’s ready to hit the ground running in the Senate, regardless of which party ultimately seizes a narrow majority.

“It was a tremendous effort,” she said, crediting her cadre of campaign workers. “I’m excited to move forward.”

The races for the Capital Region’s other Senate seats had more predictable results. And in each case, the results favored longtime incumbents over their lesser known challengers by large margins.

Sen. Hugh Farley became the longest-tenured member of the Senate after easily winning a 19th term in the redrawn 49th District. The longtime Niskayuna incumbent was challenged by Democrat Madelyn Thorne, the director of pastoral care at the Schenectady County-owned Glendale Home nursing facility in Glenville, who conceded the race shortly before 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Preliminary results showed Thorne putting up slightly more of a challenge than former Schenectady County Legislature chairwoman Susan Savage did when she battled Farley in 2010. But in both races, Farley cruised to victory.

Farley’s district now covers the second largest in the state geographically and includes eastern Schenectady County, western Saratoga County, Hamilton County, Fulton County and the northern two-thirds of Herkimer County. His role as the elder statesmen may also mean he’ll wield a bit more influence, possibly as the Senate’s senior assistant majority leader.

“I’ll be moving up in leadership,” he said.

Fellow Republican James Seward also landed an easy win, handily defeating Democrat Howard Leib for the 51st District. The 61-year-old from Milford in Otsego County has held the sprawling rural district since 1986 and serves as the Senate’s assistant majority leader on conference operations.

The district now encompasses all of Schoharie and Otsego counties, in addition to parts of seven other rural counties. Seward ran unopposed in 2010.

“New York state is moving in the right direction and we need to capitalize on the momentum and take additional steps to move our state forward,” Seward said in a news release.

On the other side of the isle, Sen. Neil Breslin won his 10th term in office by besting Green Party challenger Peter LaVenia in the 44th District. The 70-year-old Democrat from Delmar trounced his opponent to win another two years representing the district that now includes the northeast part of Albany County and the cities of Troy and Rensselaer.

 
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