McCain delegates Callaghan, Acunto win

Christopher Callaghan of Waterford and Fred Acunto of Charlton will be going to Minneapolis-St.Paul

Christopher Callaghan of Waterford and Fred Acunto of Charlton will be going to Minneapolis-St.Paul in September.

The two former elected officials are Republican National Convention delegates for Arizona Sen. John McCain, who strongly won the Republican primary in Capital Region counties, as he did across the state.

McCain was defeating former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney by 49 percent to 29 percent in early results.

“McCain is a powerful candidate. As commander in chief, he’ll bring continuity to the White House,” said Acunto, a former Charlton town supervisor.

Primary results

For local results from Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican presidential primaries, click here.

Callaghan, the former Saratoga County treasurer who was the GOP candidate for state comptroller in 2006, was McCain’s Capital Region coordinator, and has been working for him since last spring.

“He’s just the best prepared to be president of the United States,” Callaghan said Tuesday night, as supporters celebrated at Kielty’s Emerald Isle, a pub in Waterford a few doors from the storefront campaign headquarters. “He says what he thinks, not what he thinks you want to hear, and that’s refreshing.”

McCain spent 51⁄2 years as a prisoner during the Vietnam War, and Waterford Mayor J. Bert Mahoney knew him and developed a respect for him before that, when McCain was a young naval aviator on the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany.

“He was a pilot and I was a flight electrician,” said Mahoney, who will go to Minnesota as an alternate delegate. “I was on the deck as a troubleshooter, so I had some contact with him.”

The 101 GOP delegates at stake in New York’s winner-takes-all voting were the second-most at stake in any of the primaries or caucuses that occurred in 24 states on Super Tuesday. Three delegates are elected from each of the state’s congressional districts.

“I think obviously the Republican Party is coming together behind a single candidate, and it’s happening across the country,” said Schenectady County Republican Chairman Tom Buchanan. “It’s obvious to me John McCain is virtually unstoppable at this point.”

Callaghan and Buchanan said they think McCain is the Republican who can beat either of the Democratic contenders, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Interest in the primaries was so great in the region that there was more than one instance of voters at local polling places in Wilton and elsewhere being upset when they arrived at a polling place Tuesday morning, only to find out the polls didn’t open until noon.

McCain rapidly gained the backing of the state’s Republican establishment in the last week, after favorite-son candidate former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani withdrew from the race following a third-place finish in Florida and endorsed McCain. Before that, the state’s major Republicans had backed Guiliani.

Romney didn’t make a significant campaign effort in the Capital Region.

Also on the New York ballot were former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who was running third in most counties, and Ron Paul, a libertarian-leaning Texas congressman who has a strong following on the Internet but has garnered relatively few votes.

Categories: Schenectady County

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