Republican New York State Senator Hugh Farley was challenged in 2012 by Democrat Madelyn Thorne. The veteran politician coasted to reelection. Now, Thorne is eyeing a rematch this November.
The 81-year old Farley, who hails from Schenectady, has been in the state Senate since 1976. Last time around, Madelyn Thorne ran on change, and Senator Farley ran on his record. Sensing a possible shift of direction in the political wind, Thorne believes her chances at toppling the veteran politician have increased with the influx of fresh female faces, like those of Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Dorcey Applyrs of the Albany Common Council.
Thorne says "It is our responsibility and our right to assume positions of authority and positions of responsibility. Where we used to ask permission to do so, we're no longer asking permission. We are simply stepping in, stepping up."
Farley says he's not announcing but has every intention of running again. He branded Throne "a formidable candidate" but senses good times ahead for the GOP. In the Senate, the Republicans share power with a group of breakaway Democrats. "Statewide there's such dissatisfaction with Obamcare and so many things, and our polls that I've heard look very very promising, particularly for Republican candidates this fall, so it should be a good year. And we generally do better in these kind of off-presidential years anyway."
Farley, who once served as a WAMC board member, says there's no question that even in the predominantly Republican 49th district, women can be fierce candidates. "I had a race against Susan Savage where they spent a couple million dollars against me where I won 2 and 3 to 1."
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was heavily criticized for policies that some feared would turn government into a 'nanny state.' As more women enter political office, Thorne says no one should fear New York becoming a 'mommy state.' "We want men to be involved and women to be involved. We need everybody in there. We have a lot of challenges. We need all of those voices to make it work right for all of us."
New York State Senator Neil Breslin, an Albany Democrat, appreciates the role women are playing in politics in 2014. He mirrors the party's push for diversity when he says "We have to have equal rights for all. So when we talk about justice, it starts with women, it starts with minorities."
The 49th State Senate District encompasses the western half of Saratoga County, all of Fulton and Hamilton Counties, and parts of Herkimer and Schenectady Counties, including the city of Schenectady. The district has approximately 76,000 registered Republicans, 57,000 registered Democrats and 10,000 Independence Party voters.