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McLaughlin Declares Victory In Rensselaer County Executive Primary, Meyer Does Not Concede

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It’s possible three candidates could campaign through November when Rensselaer County residents vote for a new county executive. As WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports, one candidate declared victory in the Republican primary on Tuesday. The other is not conceding yet.

According to unofficial results, New York state Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin finished ahead of Deputy Rensselaer County Executive Chris Meyer, 2,708 votes to 2,369.

McLaughlin declared victory, saying he has secured the Republican line in the upcoming general election to replace retiring County Executive Kathy Jimino.

McLaughlin also led on the Conservative Party line.

A vocal member of the Assembly minority, McLaughlin took a similar underdog approach during his campaign. Here he is speaking on Spectrum News Tuesday night.

“There were people that were afraid to step up and that was OK,” said McLaughlin. “There were people that came to me every day and said ‘Steve, I’m with you, but I gotta stay quiet because I’m afraid for my job.’ That told me that we were on the right track for victory. When you are making people afraid for their job, there is something wrong. That told me that we need to fix this system.”

McLaughlin weathered negative headlines during the final weeks of the primary campaign, including the release of an explosive tape of an argument between the Assemblyman and a legislative staff member.

McLaughlin apologized for his language in the tape during a televised debate last week.

But despite McLaughlin’s victory declaration, Meyer — who got the endorsement from the Republican establishment in the primary race — refused to concede.

The Deputy County Executive said Tuesday night on Spectrum News he wanted to wait until all the votes were counted.

“I’m really excited about getting to the absentee program to see where we stand. We worked hard on the absentees, so we’ll see how that works out. But it looks like tonight we’re not gonna know – which is unfortunate – but I think everybody for all their help through this.”

Meyer did take the Reform Party line Tuesday.

If both move onto the general election, Democrat Andrea Smyth will have two opponents.

Smyth said she her campaign always had “some expectation” that it would be a three-way race.

“I don’t know that I ever got the impression from either of these two gentlemen that they were thinking of stepping aside if they won lines in the primary, and since that happened, I think that everybody has got to explain how they will help the residents of Rensselaer County. And I’m prepared to do that.”

Smyth said she believes could benefit from a change in party, pointing out that a Democrat has not led the county since 1972, when a new charter was put in place.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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