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New York Gov. Hochul announces "parameters of conceptual" budget deal, two weeks after deadline

McCalmon drops out of NY-44 Senate race as Republican battle continues

Michelle Ostrellich thanks Thearse McCalmon for stepping aside in the spirit of unity.
Dave Lucas
As supporters look on, Michelle Ostrellich thanks Thearse McCalmon for stepping aside in the spirit of unity.

Democrats are unifying behind one candidate for the new 44th District New York state Senate seat.

Standing in front of the Schenectady County Board of Elections Friday, Thearse McCalmon said she is moving aside so that Michelle Ostrelich can be the Democratic candidate for the 44th District Senate seat. The district drawn by a court-appointed special master includes Saratoga County as well as the City of Schenectady and the Town of Niskayuna.

"Primaries are healthy, and they are needed. And I stand by that. Always, they are," said McCalmon. "But we cannot wait until after the primary when we have exhausted ourselves, all of our resources and the community to be unified."

McCalmon says the community's needs are her number one priority. "We are watching the drama happening within the Republican Party with Tedisco and Jordan. And as entertaining as it may be, to some, it is an embarrassment to me," McCalmon said.

McCalmon accuses the two sitting Senators, Jim Tedisco and Daphne Jordan, about to lock horns in a primary as their districts shift, of "putting their selfish goals ahead of the people's." She says she reached out to Ostrelich in the spirit of unity.

"So I decided that Michelle and I would be a better force unified. And united. Michelle agreed," McCalm on said. "In my past run Michelle Ostrelcih endorsed me because she knew just like me that Tedisco needed to go. I'm here however to announce to you all that I am stepping down from my run for the 44 New York state senate district and stepping up to endorse Michelle Ostrelich."

Ostrelich, a Schenectady County legislator serving District 3, says the new district needs a government that upholds democracy, and the principles and values that come along with that: women's health care, reproductive rights, marriage equality, trans visibility, and health care.

"We're at a critical moment in time," Ostrelich said. "All of the rights are so many of the rights that we have fought so hard for are now in jeopardy, women's health care, reproductive rights, marriage equality, trans visibility, and health care. I've never stopped feeling the responsibility of legislating."

Tedisco resides in the Schenectady County Town of Glenville, which is included in the new 46th District. Defending his run in the 44th, he noted that voters from Saratoga and Schenectady counties have supported and reelected him over and over again.

"No amount of campaign distortions or miss truth can change that," said Tedisco. "I mean, today's news conference underscores what I've been saying. This is a highly competitive Senate district 44th. But no question about it. I'm the best candidate to stand up to the one party, total domination of state government by the ruling Democratic majority. That's led to the highest inflation in 40 years, surging, unbelievable gas prices, a shortage of baby formula and the highest crime rate in decades. Not to mention 319,000 citizens who have walked out of the state last year because of their agenda, the agenda that Michelle and Thearse want her to be a part of now."

But Tedisco also faces criticism from within the Republican Party, with Jordan accusing him of being afraid to take on Democratic incumbent Senator Neil Breslin of Albany. Tedisco says he's "been on the border of Saratoga and Schenectady for 35 years."

"The entirety of the district in Schenectady, I represent right now in my district. The entirety of Saratoga, right now, the 12 towns, I represent in my district," Tedisco said.

Jordan, a Halfmoon resident who represents the current 43rd District, responded to a request for comment via email, saying in part "I guess the good news is that now there’s one less Democratic Socialist running for the State Senate. The bad news for voters is that it’s Michelle Ostrelich, who’d be another rubber stamp for the Senate Democratic Majority’s failed radical, socialist agenda." Jordan has resisted calls from Tedisco to step aside herself.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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