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Local Republicans have mixed feelings about third Trump campaign

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump at January 2016 rally in Burlington VT
Pat Bradley
Presidential hopeful Donald Trump at January 2016 rally in Burlington VT

Local Republicans have mixed feelings about a third run for the White House by former President Donald Trump.

Albany County Republican Chairman Randy Bashwinger says the "red wave" didn't affect New York the way the party would have wanted it to. He praises Lee Zeldin's attempt to wrest gubernatorial power out of Democratic hands and lauds the fact that the state has gained some seats in Congress and the state Senate.

"Former President Trump, he actually, he supported, from what I understand, over 200 candidates and 17 of them lost," said Bashwinger. "So he gave his endorsement, so I don't see where that's a loss for having his endorsement. I think that's still a positive thing. And I would definitely support Mr. Trump with running again, or whoever the Republicans end up picking."

City of Schenectady Republican chair Matt Nelligan is ready to move on.

“I think it's a terrible idea," Nelligan said. "There's a real, you know, fatigue from the kind of a nonsense that the president, the former president represents. I think he was a black cloud hanging over the midterms, which is one of the reason that we didn't get the red wave is because the former president was already teasing his run for office. And you could see the response of the electorate. And a lot of the people who bought into his election denial and his other flights of fancy lost. And he also gave us terrible candidates like Dr. Oz and Doug Mastriani and others who helped us lose the Senate and made the House really close. So I think, you know, we've lost we lost in 2020. We lost in 2018. We lost this year, essentially. And the common denominator is Trump. And it's time for Trump to hit the road.”

Albany City Republican Committee chair Alicia Purdy hopes to see a pool of diverse candidates leading up to 2024.

“After the midterms the Republican Party learned, there's a lot of work to be done to bridge a divide that we have needed to acknowledge for a long time," said Purdy. "If president Trump does run again and makes it past the primary, he's going to have the full support of Albany City Republicans, as would any candidate post primary. But before the primary, his candidacy would be given the same weight and consideration as would be given to any other Republican.”

Former Hudson Valley Congressman and gubernatorial candidate John Faso tells WAMC he thinks the party is ready for a new direction:

"Obviously, former President Trump is going to do what he wants to do," said Faso. "I personally think it's time for us to turn the page and look for new new, younger leadership for the Republican Party. But this is something that the party and the voters are going to decide who the nominee is going to be. I just think what I would like to see is a candidate who could seriously contest the presidential election in New York state."

Fresh from a loss against Democrat Neil Breslin in New York’s 46th Senate district, Rensselaerville Republican Rich Amedure believes Trump cost him the race.

“I would love, prefer him to sit it out, you know, watch how the race progresses, see who the candidates are, and then lobby that candidate for, you know, the policies, that mean something to him," Amedure said. "You know, I think the last race I ran down in Ulster County, I think if he wasn't in the race, which was tight, at the end it was less than 3000 votes, if Trump wasn't in that race, because the race never had more than 140,000 voters. In that race 168,000 came out. And basically they came out to vote against him. So if they didn't come out, I won that race. So he probably cost me a Senate seat at one point, which is his right to do what he's got to do. But I, you know, I have no love for the man personally, but I do think some of the things he did for this country had us on the right track.”

Amedure says he doesn't see making another political run "in the cards," at least not for now.

Republican Alexandra Velella failed to topple incumbent New York State Assemblyman Phil Steck in the 110th district

“I do believe that we have an increasingly divisive political climate in this country and in the state right now," Velella said. "And my concern is that it will grow worse if Trump is the nominee. The fact is, within the Republican Party as a whole, I have obvious concerns about those fractures deepening. But with that said, we have our primary process, everybody should get a fair shake. If Donald Trump gets his hat in the ring, he has every right to be heard, and have his opinions considered.”

Northern New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik has already endorsed Trump. She spoke minutes after winning her fifth term.

"I support him. I spoke with him this morning. I'm honored to have his support not only for reelection in this district, but to serve as the next House Republican conference chair," Stefanik said.

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.