Rotterdam GOP sees better future after near-complete defeat

For Rotterdam Republicans, the results of Tuesday’s elections were more bitter than sweet, but they

For Rotterdam Republicans, the results of Tuesday’s elections were more bitter than sweet, but they say things can only get better from here.

The party scored just one victory in town and county races: Incumbent Highway Superintendent James Longo was the only winner among the party’s eight candidates running in Rotterdam and only the second to win a local office since 2003.

Rotterdam Republican Committee chairwoman Tracy Donovan said Tuesday’s losses were tough to stomach. But in terms of party growth, she said the 2011 election helped unite the Rotterdam Republicans and reinvigorate a committee that was badly fractured after the losses two years earlier.

“I think we’re moving forward and I think we’re working together as a team now,” she said.

County Committee chairman Tom Buchanan agreed. He said the turmoil that roiled among the Republicans after the 2009 election finally appears to have subsided, with the disgruntled party members choosing to leave, rather than stir further trouble.

“The party is much different now than a year or two ago,” he said. “Those who were disenchanted left the party.”

The mending Republicans were left short on funds and lacking the name recognition to take on Harry Buffardi in the town supervisor race. The longtime Schenectady County sheriff became an instant favorite in the race after he was announced as the Democratic candidate in March and got even more of a boost by commanding three additional third-party lines, including the coveted Conservative endorsement.

“You were really looking at a David-and-Goliath battle in the town,” Buchanan said.

He said the county Democratic Committee also pumped tens of thousands of dollars into Rotterdam. As a result, he said, voters were inundated with campaign flyers from the Democrats that the town and county Republican committees couldn’t match.

State Board of Elections disclosure records show the county Democratic Committee spent $66,164 of the $161,179 raised over the course of the year. In contrast, the county Republican Committee spent $19,892 of the $24,103 raised so far in 2011.

“We fielded a great slate,” he said. “Unfortunately, we were drowned out by the money.”

Longo proved to be the GOP’s top candidate, gaining 3,721 votes, according to unofficial results. Stan Marchinkowski, the candidate for District 3 legislator, secured a second-best 3,490 votes, but still fell more than 2,000 short of winning one of the two seats up for election.

In the supervisor’s race, Brian McGarry was handily defeated by Democart Harry Buffardi by a 868-vote margin. Incumbent Supervisor Frank Del Gallo landed 1,172 votes —or about 15 percent — and may have been a spoiler for the Republicans.

The dynamics of the race were similar to 2009, when McGarry was blamed for playing the role of spoiler by securing 17 percent of the vote. That year, Del Gallo defeated incumbent Steve Tommasone by fewer than 250 votes.

Donovan questioned whether Del Gallo’s candidacy this year doomed McGarry’s chances. Both candidates ran on a platform of reducing town spending.

“I think he had an impact and I tend to wonder where he siphoned his votes from,” she said.

Donovan said Del Gallo was determined to win and had no interest in abandoning his run, even after he failed to land an endorsement from any of the established parties during the primaries. Instead, she said he asked McGarry to consider stepping aside so that he’d have a chance at beating the Democrats.

Categories: Schenectady County

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