115th Assembly District Primary Pits Former Challenger Against Incumbent
Republicans in New York’s 115th Assembly District are choosing between the incumbent and a challenger who is repeating her 2012 primary contest.
In New York’s North Country, the key primary race finds incumbent Republican Janet Duprey facing challenger Karen Bisso in a rematch. Duprey won in 2012 and says she’s a bit surprised that she’s facing the same challenger. “Certainly I won substantially two years ago and then certainly won the general election by an even greater margin. So it was a surprise that the same challenger came back. But I feel up to the challenge.”
Karen Bisso is a teacher who notes that several key issues have emerged since her previous campaign in 2012. “Since that time the Safe Act has happened. The Common Core has been started in our education, our public education system. And in addition to that we’ve lost another prison in this area. And the economy has not improved even after the gimmicks that the governor has tried over the last two years to get future growth and development happening. It just hasn’t come through. And then we have these other things that have happened as a result of some poor legislation down in Albany. I figured it was time to step forward and really do the fight a little bit harder this time.”
The two candidates agree on the need to act on those issues, but not on the strategies. Bisso is conservative, while Duprey takes a more moderate stance. “One of the main reasons I ran again is because of my concerns about the Common Core. The fact that it was certainly implemented wrong. We need to fix it. We have done some amendments to it. We need to continue to do them. But we have the two year moratorium where I’m hoping, and certainly one of the directives that many of us have given to the state education department and to Commissioner King and the Board of Regents, is that as we implement changes the teachers and school administrators have got to be sitting at the table. Not business people. That’s going to be a huge focus over the next couple of years.”
That’s one of the issues where Bisso would take a different approach. “As far as the Common Core is concerned, I’m a 29-year veteran teacher. I taught the Common Core last year in the ninth grade and it was a disaster. It was developmentally inappropriate across the board K to 12. We’re using our children as guinea pigs. Right now our current lawmakers are telling us just give us two more years to get this right. A third grader doesn’t have another shot at third grade. A ninth grader has no other opportunity to take ninth grade. We don’t have time for lawmakers to sit around and try and get this right. If it’s empirically not known to be true or correct or valuable for our students, it needs to leave.”
Duprey has worked closely with and supports the North Country Economic Development Council. But Bisso says people are still leaving the state to find jobs and calls recent economic development plans like Governor Cuomo’s Start-Up NY gimmicks.
Low turnout is expected in this Republican Assembly primary. SUNY Plattsburgh Chair and Professor of Political Science Harvey Schantz says there are few people eligible to vote in the primary. “If you look at the 115th Assembly district as of April 1, 2014 there were only 24, 279 active Republicans in this assembly district. If you look back at the 2012 primary results, the turn out was just under 13 percent, 12.9 percent. So, we don’t really know what the turn out will be but there’s no other top of the ticket races for Republicans. So this primary is on its own.”
Regardless of the results of the primary, both Duprey and Bisso will be on the general election ballot. Bisso will appear on the Conservative Party line and Duprey will be on the Independence Party line. Schantz believes today’s primary will determine the final outcome. “Without the Republican party nomination you wouldn’t win this district. I think what’s most interesting is that the Democrats aren’t offering a seat. The active Democrats actually outnumber the active Republicans. So the winner of the Republican primary will most likely win the seat. But Bisso has already won the Conservative nomination and Duprey already the Independence nomination. So both candidates will appear in November, but I think neither could win from a minor party.”
Polls in the North Country are open from noon until 9 p.m.