John Wasielewski on Monday said he will seek the Republican nomination for the 109th Assembly District seat currently held by Democrat Bob Reilly of Colonie.
The announcement came in a borrowed storefront at the Shoppes of Halfmoon, a strip mall under construction at routes 9 and 146. Wasielewski said the need to control local property taxes, state spending and mandates would be his major issues. He also backs more aggressive measures to combat Medicaid fraud.
Wasielewski has an extensive background in the U.S. military, serving as an Army lieutenant in the first Gulf War and later as a major in the Air National Guard. He works as a security consultant for Schenectady International and said he would resign from that job if elected to the Assembly.
The district has almost 10,000 more Republicans than Democrats, but Reilly was easily re-elected in 2006 after defeating GOP incumbent Bob Prentiss in 2004. He has said he will seek re-election this year.
Beside Wasielewski, potential candidate Dan Bazile and candidate Eryn Foster have expressed interest in the Republican nomination. Foster declared his candidacy in January. Bazile said Monday he has not decided whether to run. All three have appeared before the Clifton Park and Halfmoon town Republican committees to seek their endorsement, Wasielewski and Foster have done the same with the Colonie committee (Bazile said he was busy elsewhere that night).
Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, said any of the three would make a good Republican candidate.
Wasielewski said he has raised about $15,000 for the campaign over the past three weeks. He is a registered Conservative, while Bazile is a member of the Independence Party. Foster, the only actual Republican, said he had raised “a couple of thousand” dollars so far. Bazile and Foster also stress the importance of controlling property taxes.
Last year, Tedisco’s Republican conference picked up a seat in a majority Democratic district in Schenectady and Montgomery counties, when George Amedore was elected to succeed Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, who resigned. That successful campaign cost more than half a million dollars, draining most of the funds from the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee. According to its January report filed with the state Board of Elections, RACC had $276,339 on hand, as compared to $2,006,383 for the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee. Both sides say they have added to their cash on hand since then.
Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari, D-Cohoes, co-chairman of DACC, said Republicans outspent Democrats to elect Amedore over Ed Kosiur last year. Tedisco has disputed that, saying it doesn’t take into account the resources of special interests such as labor unions that backed Kosiur.
This year, Amedore’s seat will again be strongly contested, and both sides are likely to put resources into winning the North Country seat vacated by Darrel Aubertine, a Democratic assemblyman who was elected earlier this year to the state Senate in a Republican district. Tedisco declined to say where RACC would focus its resources. Tedisco did say he thinks Reilly’s seat is winnable.
Canestrari said “Bob Reilly is in an excellent position” to win re-election, citing the assemblyman’s practice of giving away his entire salary to local nonprofit groups. Whether or not Hillary Clinton is on the ballot for president, Canestrari said, “We think it’s going to be a good Democratic year.” He said the state is becoming more Democratic, with voters’ sentiments increasingly in tune with the party.
Foster said all people know about Reilly is the salary giveaway, and “anybody is beatable.”
Asked why Republicans could hope to defeat Reilly now when he won re-election so easily in 2006, RACC spokesman Joshua Fitzpatrick said 2006 was a bad year generally for Republicans, who lost control of both houses of Congress. This year, he said, Republican presidential candidate John McCain will likely help the rest of the ticket.
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