The Democratic primary race in New York’s 21st Congressional district narrowed again this week as Don Boyajian dropped out. He has decided to instead run for a New York Assembly seat.
At its peak, 10 Democrats were vying to challenge incumbent Republican Elise Stefanik in northern New York’a congressional race. Over the past few months the field has narrowed. On Tuesday, the race was down to five as Cambridge attorney Don Boyajian announced he would end his campaign for Congress and instead run for the 107th Assembly District seat. “Whether it’s providing a good public education for young people or creating new jobs or addressing the opioid epidemic or protecting the environment a lot of the solutions are found right now at the state. The state is actually getting things done and I want to serve my community and I think the place where I could be most effective in helping is at the state.”
Boyajian says this was a methodical decision made over a long period of time. He says the Congressional race has taught him a number of things that will help the more localized campaign. “It’s been a tremendous growing experience both in terms of what types of issues are not being addresses by the federal government, which types of issues are being inadequately addressed in state government.”
Boyajian says he was encouraged to make the campaign switch and is already focused on issues facing the 107th district. The district, which covers parts of Rensselaer, Columbia and Washington counties, is now represented by Republican Jake Ashby, who won a special election in April to replace now-Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin. “You know I’ve been involved in the Hoosick Falls with the PFOA issue. My background is heavily rooted in environmental policy and environmental science and environmental law and ensuring that our communities have clean drinking water, that contamination sites are completely cleaned up and that addressing those issues gets the attention it deserves. That’s an important issue. I don’t think we’re taking good care of our farmers right now and I want to be a champion on those issues. I think providing a quality public education that’s preparing young people for 21st century jobs that is such a great example of an issue that most comprehensively addressed in the state.”
SUNY Plattsburgh Professor of Political Science Dr. Harvey Schantz notes that the highest number of candidates in a Congressional primary in the district in the past was three, so the Democratic field was unusually overcrowded this year. “You can see a pattern beginning of the candidates dropping out as they realize their opportunities are limited or in the case of Don Boyajian seeing that there’s another race that they can run in.”
Schantz adds that a Congressional candidate switching to an Assembly race is rather unusual. “You don’t see that. But as the race was developing there was talk that since there are so many candidates perhaps this race, where they participated in so many candidate forums and learned how to talk to the press, this can serve as a training ground for other races that they may be interested. And so after the April 24th special election in Assembly district 107 there was no immediate Democratic candidate. So this seemed like a very good fit to bail out of this race and start using your skills and money to oppose a Republican candidate.”
The five candidates remaining the 21st District Democratic Congressional primary are Patrick Nelson, Dylan Rattigan, Tedra Cobb, Katie Wilson and Emily Martz. Stefanik is running for a third term.