Capital Region

A look at Thursday’s primaries

Local incumbents face primary challenges
Campaign are posted on South Melcher Street in Johnstown on Tuesday.
Campaign are posted on South Melcher Street in Johnstown on Tuesday.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

This article has been updated 

Statewide primary elections are on Thursday this year so they would not conflict with the end of Rosh Hashanah or the 17th anniversary of Sept. 11. While primaries for federal offices, including Congress, were held in late June, candidates for governor, attorney general, state Legislature and local-level positions are on the ballot to earn their party’s nomination Thursday. 

Voters must be registered members of a political party in order to vote. Regional polling locations open at noon and will close at 9 p.m., though anyone who is in line before polls close will be allowed to vote after 9 p.m.

As is customary in New York State, many candidates running as Republicans and Democrats will also be on the ballot for other parties, such as the Working Families, Conservative, and Independence parties, but they can only receive votes from voters registered in those parties. 

The winners of Thursday’s primaries will face off in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.


Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will face challenger Cynthia Nixon for the Democratic nomination, while Republican and Dutchess County Executive Marc Monlinaro will run unopposed for the Republican nomination. Nixon, known for her work as an actress on “Sex And The City,” and her role as an activist for LGBT issues in New York City, recently visited Schenectady and Saratoga Springs. The progressive challenger was down by more than 40 percentage points in the latest Siena poll but hopes to secure an upset over Cuomo, who has encountered issues late in the race, including controversial mailers questioning Nixon’s support for the Jewish community (Nixon raises her children in the Jewish faith) and a botched opening of the new Mario Cuomo Bridge, which was jeopardized by a potential collapse of the old Tappan Zee Bridge right next to it. 

Lieutenant Governor

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul also faces a challenge from the Nixon ticket in New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams. 

There is a possibility of a split ticket should one of the candidates win while their governor candidate loses, should they choose to stay in the race through November.

Attorney General 

A crowded field of Democrats jockeying to replace acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood will be settled Thursday, while Republican Manhattan attorney Keith Wofford runs unopposed after securing the nod at the GOP’s nominating convention. The opening occurred because of the resignation of former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. 

Atop the Democratic field, according to the latest Siena poll, is Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, followed by New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout and former counsel for Sen. Hillary Clinton, Leecia Eve.

Teachout was endorsed by The New York Times editorial board in August and was the target of the vast majority of attacks from her opponents during the first debate. While many voters still have no opinion on any particular candidate in the race, according to the latest Siena poll, Maloney emerged with a 1 percentage point lead over James — with 25 and 24 percentage points, respectively, followed by Teachout with 18 percentage points among those polled. Eve stood at 3.

The Reform Party also has a three-way field consisting of Manhattan lawyer Nancy Sliwa, Rockland County civil rights lawyer Michael Diederich, and self-described libertarian lawyer Christopher Garvey. 

State Senate

Republican state Sen. James Tedisco will be on the GOP ballot in November, but he faces a Reform Party primary from an unidentified “opportunity to ballot” challenger, whom Tedisco’s communications director, Adam Kramer, described as being funded by “downstate special interests.” Opportunity to ballot entries are similar to write-in campaigns, with no name appearing on the ballot entry.

State Assembly

— Democrat Assemblyman Phil Steck faces an opportunity to ballot challenger lining up against him on the Reform Party ballot for the 110th Assembly District, while Steck will remain on the Democratic line in November. 

— Two newcomers will square off in the Republican and Conservative parties primaries for the 118th Assembly District. The winner will face Democrat Keith Rubino in the November general election. 

Robert Smullen, of Johnstown, a retired Marine colonel and former executive director of the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District, will face Patrick Vincent, of Cold Brook, a retired state corrections officer who now operates Vincent’s Heating and Fuel Service in Poland, Herkimer County. 

Saratoga County District Attorney

Saratoga County DA Karen Heggen will face Saratoga Springs defense attorney Gerard Amedio in the GOP primary for the seat. 

Schenectady County Clerk 

Democrat Cara Jasenski Ackerley and Republican candidate Nicholas Barber face off on the Independence and Reform parties’ ballot lines before their general election campaign begins in earnest. Ackerley has the endorsement of leaders in those parties, but Barber — a registered member of the Independence Party — is challenging her.

With incumbent Democrat John Woodward retiring this year after 24 years in office, Democrats quickly turned to Ackerley, who is Woodward’s chief deputy, as the party’s nominee to replace him.

Republicans, meanwhile, nominated Barber, of Schenectady, who served for many years as the county’s director of real property tax services. He obtained enough petition signatures to force an Independence Party primary, and will also have an opportunity to ballot entry on the Reform line.

Fulton County Family Court Judge 

Fulton County Public Defender J. Gerard McAuliffe Jr. will face Gloversville-based attorney Michael Smrtic in the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties primaries. 

Smrtic ran for Fulton County Court and Surrogate judge in 2015 against Louise Sira and lost. 

The judgeship runs for 10 years. One of the two men will replace retiring Family Court Judge Edward Skoda.  

Amsterdam Common Council, 3rd Ward

Irene Collins and Art Iannuzzi will square off in the Democratic Party primary for a special election to fill the remaining year on Amsterdam’s Third Ward Common Council seat. 

Iannuzzi was chosen in July to fill the seat by a vote of the Common Council to replace former deputy mayor and Third Ward Alderman Chad Majewski, a Democrat. Amsterdam’s city charter mandates that the council replace vacated seats with people from the same party. The Amsterdam City Democratic Committee, however, endorsed Collins, the former deputy comptroller for the city of Mount Vernon who once ran for Amsterdam city controller and lost. City Democratic Committee members have said Collins would be the first person of Hispanic descent to serve on the Common Council.

Iannuzzi owns a computer company that sometimes does business with the city. He served on the Common Council from 1996 to 2000. 

Both candidates are slated to run in the November general election as independents no matter who wins the Democratic Party primary Thursday. 

Whoever wins the Third Ward council seat will serve the final year of Majewski’s term in 2019, during which there will be another election in November for a full two-year term for the council seat. 

Editor’s note 9 a.m. Wednesday: This article was updated to include the lieutenant governor’s race, which had been omitted

Leave a Reply