There has been a shakeup in the race for mayor of Troy just one week before Election Day.
After dropping out of Troy’s mayoral race for what he said were family reasons earlier this month, Republican Tom Reale is back in. And he’s naming names. At a press conference Tuesday morning, Reale said he was pressured by Rensselaer County GOP bosses to suspend his campaign against first-term Democrat Patrick Madden and third-party hopeful Rodney Wiltshire.
Confirming a Times Union report, Reale says he was pressured to leave the race in an explosive October 7 meeting with County Executive Steve McLaughlin, GOP operative Richard Crist, former City Councilor Jim Gordon, and former Congressman John Sweeney.
“They chose to get me out of the race for someone they could control, by threatening to withhold support from me, and making unfound claims that I had no support," says Reale. "By reentering this race, I am saying ‘no’ to the rule by bullies that is now becoming the norm at every level of government.”
Early voting has already begun, and Reale’s name was on the ballot regardless. Reale says the Republican leaders abandoned him in favor of Wiltshire, hoping to set up a head-to-head race.
“Calls were not being returned. I’d reach out to particulars and I wouldn’t hear back from them – both at the city and county level," explains Reale. "Things got to a point where I couldn’t avoid the fact that Mr. Wiltshire was appearing at several fundraisers, that he was appearing with several of our candidates, and I needed answers. And it appears that the answers that they wanted to give me were essentially just to get out.”
Reale says he was instructed to endorse Wiltshire at the Oct. 7 meeting, which he refused.
The 37-year-old veteran, whose campaign has centered on improving city services and the South Troy pool, says he initially planned to run for Troy City Council – until city Republicans tapped him to run for mayor. Things changed by Oct. 7: Reale says he was met with mockery, gaslighting, and indirect threats to his current position as a legislative aide in the New York state Senate.
“There were some overt threats that were made that the county party would refuse to carry petitions for Senate candidates if I were still employed at the Senate…[Senator] Daphne Jordan and whoever the candidate would be against Senator Breslin," says Reale.
A call to the county executive’s office was not returned.
Wiltshire is a former City Council president running on the Green and Independence lines after losing June’s Democratic primary. In an interview with WAMC, Wiltshire said he had no knowledge of the Oct. 7 meeting other than what he read in news reports. In any event, he says he’s confused by Reale’s reentry this close to Election Day.
“[It] Doesn’t make any sense. Ballots have already been cast, absentees, early voting – this certainly doesn’t make any logical sense," says Wiltshire. "And for somebody to step out because of very bona fide family reasons, and then a week before to come back in, really shows a conflict and, in my opinion, a very bad lack of judgement on Mr. Reale’s part.”
Reale is probably facing an uphill battle since Democrats have a sizable enrollment advantage in the city. He wouldn’t rule out working with McLaughlin but calls the relationship “strained at best.”
“I am not beholden to any party. I will not claim to be an independent candidate, for I am the candidate on the ballot for the Republican and Conservative parties," he notes. "But it is clear that I am the only candidate in this race who will be an independent mayor.”
For his part, Mayor Madden declined to get involved in the spat, releasing a campaign statement that says: “From the start, our campaign has focused on my strong record of success, including progress to improve our neighborhoods, repair our finances, upgrade infrastructure, and increase economic development in Troy. We will continue to deliver our message of progress on important issues to voters, and I remain committed to protecting taxpayers and addressing the needs of our residents.”
Reale plans to join Madden and Wiltshire for a Spectrum News debate Wednesday.