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Voters To Decide Replacement For New York's Longest-Serving State Senator

The makeup of New York state Senate hangs in the balance this year. It’s currently led by Republicans and a coalition of breakaway Democrats.

State Senator Hugh Farley is retiring at the end of this year, leaving the seat he’s held since 1977.

Two candidates have been battling to replace the outgoing Republican: Longtime Capital Region Assemblyman Jim Tedisco on the Republican ticket, and political newcomer Chad Putman on the Democratic line.

Since kicking off his campaign with a walk and bike across the sprawling district that stretches 120 miles from Schenectady into the Adirondacks last summer, Putman says voters in the diverse district are ready to vote against the status quo.

“And people are hungry for a change and I believe there’s a lot of momentum and interest in getting behind my campaign and supporting me on Tuesday, November 8th,” said Putman.

Putman said he would self-impose term limits, serving a maximum of five two-year terms, and has been focused on collecting campaign donations from individuals. Putman claimed that contributions from LLC’s and corporations “cloud” the political process.

“I’m helping to rewrite what campaign finance can look like in New York state by pulling the big money out of politics so that we can level the playing field and give more people an opportunity in the political process,” said Putman.

Tedisco was first elected to the Assembly in 1982 and was endorsed by the outgoing Farley.

Tedisco said he’s been well-received by constituents across the district.

“They brought me into the kitchen table and we’ve sat down and spoke about issues and I think they’ve illustrated they understand I’ve checked the boxes in all the areas that fit for what I think could be an outstanding public servant in the Senate as I have been in the Assembly,” said Tedisco.

Initially, three Republicans ran for the GOP nomination. Nancy Nugent, of Northville, failed to gather enough petition signatures to appear on the primary ballot. In September, Tedisco fended off a challenge by Christian Klueg, also of Northville, with 62 percent of the vote. 

Throughout his campaign, Tedisco has called on his experience fighting for his constituents by standing up to Democratic leaders at the capitol.

“Sheldon Silver, when he woudn’t talk about property taxes, I didn’t get in his face when he was handcuffed in front of a judge. I went right to his press conference. I sponsored the first property tax cap bill. We got it passed and over the years it saved the constitiuents of the 49th Senatorial District $345 million and $15 billion across the state and I want to make that permanent when I get to the Senate,” said Tedisco.

Tedisco has said keeping Republican control of the Senate is an important check against the overwhelmingly Democratic Assembly and Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In the race to replace Tedisco, Republican Mary Beth Walsh is running against Democrat Michael Godlewski. Walsh defeated former 20th District Congressional candidate Jim Fischer in the September primary.

The neighboring 43rd District is also up for grabs. Republican incumbent Kathy Marchione is seeking a third term against Democrat and political newcomer Shaun Francis. Joe Levy is running on the Green Party line.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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