HUDSON–Columbia County residents who pay attention to politics already knew they will have a new state senator come January, but they may not have expected it would be a three-way race for the post in the November election.
So far, that’s how the contest is shaping up after last week’s Republican primary between Senator Roy McDonald, who represents the 43rd Senate District and Kathy Marchione, the Saratoga County Clerk. The Times Union newspaper in Albany reported this week that unofficial results of the voting machine count showed Ms. Marchione with a lead of just 122 votes in the newly redrawn 43rd District, which covers all of Columbia County, most of Rensselaer County, and parts of Saratoga and Washington counties. The outcome of the primary now will be determined by fewer than 1,000 absentee ballots that remain to be counted.
The GOP line on the ballot is the big prize in a district the skews Republican, but Mr. McDonald already had the Independence Party line in November, and Ms. Marchione easily won the Conservative Party nomination in the September 13 primary.
Claverack Supervisor Robin Andrews wrapped up the nomination of the Democrats earlier this year and did not face a primary challenge. After last week’s primary she issued a challenge to both her opponents to debate the issues.
Virginia Martin, the Democratic Elections Commissioner for Columbia County said Wednesday, September 19, that by court order the counting of the 43rd District absentee ballots would begin Monday, September 24. Sen. McDonald prevailed in the unofficial machine vote in Columbia County by a slim margin of 26 votes, 1,064 to 1,038 for Ms. Marchione. But outpolled him in Rensselaer County by more than 200 votes.
Meanwhile local Democrats here celebrated last Thursday night over the resounding victory of Spencertown lawyer Cheryl Roberts in the Democratic primary for the newly redrawn 107th state Assembly District, which includes the towns of Kinderhook, Chatham, New Lebanon, Canaan, Austerlitz and Hillsdale. The district also includes most of the municipalities in Rensselaer County except the cities of Troy and Rensselaer and the suburban Town of North Greenbush, plus two towns in southern Washington County.
Ms. Roberts also claimed victory as the Working Families candidate in the November election, where she will face incumbent Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin.
Ms. Roberts received 703 machine votes in Columbia County. Her opponent, Rensselaer County Legislator Keith Hammond, received 53 votes.
In another primary that garnered less attention incumbent Assembly member Didi Barrett, a Democrat, was the only name on the ballot for the Independence Party in the new 106th District, but registered Independence Party members could write in the name of an opponent.
When the votes were counted this week the result was 50 votes for Ms. Barrett and 51 votes for her Republican challenger, Milan Town Board member David Byrne. But with literally a couple of votes being challenged, the race for the Independence line won’t be decided until at least the end of this week and possibly later if the candidates ask for a court hearing.
Legal challenges could also delay resolution of the Republican line in the 43rd District.
For several decades Columbia County has been represented by Senator Steve Saland (R-41st). Redistricting moved his district south, but he too faced a stiff primary challenge because, like Mr. McDonald, he crossed party lines two years ago and supported same-sex marriage, angering some supporters. The outcome of Mr. Saland’s primary race will also be decided by absentee ballots.