Roberts wins Assembly primaries; 43rd Senate race undecided

CHATHAM–Democrats here celebrated Thursday night at the convincing victory of Spencertown lawyer Cheryl Roberts in the Democratic primary for the newly redrawn 107th state Assembly District. Ms. Roberts also claimed victory as the Working Families candidate in the November election, where she will face incumbent Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin.

Long after the polls closed, the contest for the GOP nomination in the 43rd state Senate District between incumbent Roy McDonald and Saratoga County Clerk Kathleen A. Marchione remained a virtual tie. It will likely be decided only after all the absentee ballots are counted.

All results so far are unofficial.

The 107th District covers the Columbia County towns of Austerlitz, Canaan, Chatham, Hillsdale, Kinderhook and New Lebanon. 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, a former Austerlitz town Justice and a special counsel to local municipalities, including the Village of Chatham and the City of Hudson, had the backing of the Democratic Party in all three counties in the district in her race against former Rensselaer County Legislator and Town Board member Keith Hammond of Poestenkill. She received 73% of the vote in Rensselaer County, according to that county’s online election results, and took over 90% of the Democratic votes in Columbia County, based on numbers supplied by her supporters Thursday. Initial results indicate about 3,000 Democrats voted in the primary.

The Working Families race involved far fewer voters but was more complex. Ms. Roberts was the candidate endorsed by the Working Families’ state leadership. But Mr. Hammond’s fiancée, Brenda Mahar, a Working Families member, challenged Ms. Roberts, a move that allowed enrolled members of that party to write in a third candidate’s name. Mr. Hammond urged his Working Families supporters to write in his name.

Sure enough, in Rensselaer County Thursday, the 52% of all votes in the Working Families primary were for a write-in candidate. But reportedly, many of the names written in were not Mr. Hammond’s, so it appears Ms. Roberts will have that line too; her supporters said there were not enough absentee ballots remaining to be counted for the outcome to change.

The 43rd Senate District includes all of Columbia County as well as parts of Rensselaer, Washington and Saratoga counties. The Senate primary winner or winners will face Democrat Robin Andrews, the Claverack town supervisor, in November. That turned out to be an exceptionally high profile race, which, made the front page of The New York Times earlier this week.

Both Senator McDonald and Ms. Marchione are long-serving politicians in the northern part of the new district, but Mr. McDonald ran afoul of GOP conservatives because he was one of a small number Republican senators in 2010 who crossed party lines to ensure passage of the state’s same-sex marriage law.

Regardless of the outcome of the Republican primary, Ms. Marchione will appear on the November ballot on the Conservative line, because she easily defeated her Conservative Party primary challenger, Edward J. Gilbert.

 

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