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115th Assembly Republican Primary Too Close To Call

Duprey for Assembly/Bisso for Assembly

The Republican primary for New York’s 115th Assembly district seat is too close to call with the final result dependant on outstanding absentee ballots.

Incumbent Assemblywoman Janet Duprey is ahead in total votes although she won only one of the three county districts in the Assembly region. Duprey won Franklin County while challenger Karen Bisso took Clinton County and the small area of St. Lawrence County that is part of the 115th District.  The two are separated by 101 votes.  Incumbent Duprey says she has never been in a race this close.  “I’m the most disappointed in the incredibly low turn-out. I am very pleased with the campaign I ran. It was very positive. We sent the message out that people had to go out and vote and they didn’t listen. It’s typical. You make people upset. There are issues that people disagree on that are very important and passionate to them. And I respect that. They’re the first ones at the polls. I know I have a lot of strong supporters out there. They just didn’t get out. I kept hearing the terms shoe-in and landslide and I started getting really nervous about that. I kept saying to people you’ve got to go vote. But I feel very good going into November.”

Challenger Bisso is a teacher and was unavailable for an interview. Prior to the primary, she noted she had visited all towns in the district and expected that and the issues she discussed to make a difference to voters.  “What I’ve done differently this time I think is I’ve really tried to tackle the SAFE Act and the Common Core as uniting issues versus always looking at divisive concerns.  I think the last campaign tended to focus on divisive issues because outside of the economy we didn’t have anything that really was meat and potatoes that people were truly alarmed about.  The Common Core and the SAFE Act are so alarming to people that they now become unifying issues.  So if we can focus on what’s going to unite us then I think maybe we can get some work done in Albany and these are huge issues for this area.”

SUNY Plattsburgh Chair and Professor of Political Science Harvey Schantz compares this primary to the previous competition in 2012 that also pitted Duprey against Bisso. He says in this race the absence of a third candidate helped Bisso.  “Last time there were three candidates. There was also David Kimmel. Where were the Kimmel supporters going to go?  That really accounts for the strong showing of Bisso. Because the Kimmel vote and the Bisso vote were the anti-Duprey vote I think that really brought Bisso up. So two years ago the two challengers split the anti-incumbent vote. This time Bisso was able to get all of the anti-incumbent votes. So this time it was harder for the incumbent because there was only one challenger in there.”

There are reportedly 255 absentee ballots to be counted next week, so neither candidate has claimed victory, although both are expressing confidence. Duprey says her 101-vote lead should be difficult to overcome with the absentees.  “I feel good about the absentee ballots. I worked very hard on those. It’s difficult for anybody to overcome a hundred point lead.  So I think I’ll certainly be on the Republican line and the Independence line and I know I have a lot of bi-partisan support. So I feel good about a victory in November.”

Dr. Schantz says with 255 absentees, it’s hard to lose with a margin of 100 votes.  “ In order for Bisso to win she would have to get 70-percent of the 255 and that’s unlikely if you feel that the absentee ballots are at all representative of the election as it was taking place.”

Both candidates will appear on the general election ballot. Bisso is on the Conservative Party line and Duprey is on the Independence line.

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