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Polls Show 2 From GOP Ahead In Key NY Senate Races

New Siena polls show two Republican challengers leading Democratic incumbents in races that will help determine control of New York's Senate.

The Siena College polls of likely voters show George Amedore leading Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk by 10 points in part of the upper Hudson and Mohawk Valley and show Dutchess County Legislator Susan Serino 12 points ahead of Senator Terry Gipson  in the mid-Hudson Valley.

Siena pollster Steve Greenberg says the 46th Senate District race is proving to be an interesting contest:      "Right now with 4 weeks to go until election day, Cece Tkaczyk who won an incredibly tight race two years ago, she beat George Amedore by 18 votes, right now the republican challenger George Amedore is in the lead. He got more than 52 percent of likely voters compared to 42 percent for Tkaczyk. They are equally known throughout the district, however, George Amedore has a better favorability rating, right now 53 percent of voters have a favorable view of Amedore, 28 percent have an unfavorable view, and that compares to Tkaczyk, who has a 44 favorable, 34 per cent unfavorable rate."

Amedore is encouraged by the poll numbers:  "The results of today's Siena Poll echo what  I've been hearing throughout the 46th Senate District. We are frustrated and we don't feel that we have a strong voice that stands up and fights for the issues that matter most to us, including reducing the high cost of living, improving education, creating good jobs to revitalize our economy, and upholding our constitutional rights. In the next 4 weeks I'm going to continue to work hard to get into the communities and listen to the residents so I can be the representative this district needs."

The Tkaczyk camp is not intimidated - spokesman Jim Plastiras:  “Senator Tkaczyk's campaign is just swinging into high gear, and with every debate that's held, voters learn more about George Amedore’s extremist, anti-choice, anti-woman, anti-environment and anti-consumer positions and voting record. They will reject his deeply disturbing views, as they did two years ago. Senator Tkaczyk has a record of bringing more education aid to her district and fighting to provide Upstate New York with its fair share of state resources. Cece will continue to fight for her constituents, and they will re-elect her back to the State Senate this Election Day."

The 46th includes Albany, Greene, Montgomery, Schenectady and Ulster counties. Perhaps more of a surprise, the Siena poll shows Dutchess County Legislator Susan Serino leading state Senator Terry Gipson in the race to represent the mid-Hudson Valley’s 41st Senate District, which covers parts of Dutchess and Putnam counties. Gipson won the seat two years ago in a 3-way race after longtime Republican Senator Steve Saland lost the Conservative party primary after voting in favor of same-sex marriage.

Pollster Greenberg says Serino leads Gipson, 52 to 40 percent.  "She is fairly well-known, almost as well-known throughout the district as Gipson is, and she's got a slightly stronger favorability rating, actually a considerably stronger. She's got a  2 to 1 favorable rating. 48 per cent of voters view her favorably, compared to 23 percent who view her unfavorably.  Gipson has a slightly positive favorabilty rating with 40 percent of voters viewing him favorably, 37 percent unfavorably."

Greenberg says each candidate has strong numbers within their own party lines, but Serino has 58 percent of the independent vote.

Serino finds the poll results "humbling and gratifying." She says "voters want quality education, meaningful tax relief, a thriving economy, good paying jobs and career opportunities for their children so they can stay here after they graduate ."

The Gipson campaign declined to go on mic, opting instead to send WAMC an email statement, which says, in part: “As the residents of Dutchess and Putnam counties learn more about Sue Serino's Tea Party views and her vote for the Dutchess County Energy Tax during our harshest winter in memory, they will reject her extremist message and send Senator Terry Gipson back to Albany this November."

Senate Democrats question Siena's numbers, saying they don't square with their own, while noting it's early and the Republicans have already poured millions of dollars into campaign ads.

The Republicans say those first-term Democrats are in serious jeopardy.

The Siena polls, ranging from 460 to 471 registered voters surveyed last week, have margins of error of 4.5 or 4.6 percent.

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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