As of late Thursday night, embattled Assembly candidate Robert Smullen of Johnstown appeared to have won the Republican and Conservative parties primaries for the 118th Assembly District over Patrick Vincent, of Cold Brook.
Smullen, who is facing a felony charge in Niskayuna for allegedly filing a false instrument for taking a primary-residence-only military combat tax exemption on two homes simulataneously, dominated his home county of Fulton. In Fulton County, Smullen, a retired Marine colonel, took in 2,695 votes, 66.2 percent of the 4,071 votes cast in the county in the Republican primary. It was more than double Vincent’s total of 1,143. Blank votes totaled 215, 5.2 percent of the Republican votes cast.
Percentage totals were almost exactly reversed in Vincent’s home county of Herkimer, with Vincent taking in 1,142 votes, 68.8 percent of the vote in that county, compared to Smullen’s 29.3 percent, 485 votes.
With 111 of 116 precincts reported in the district, Smullen enjoyed a 15 percentage point lead with 4,032 votes to Vincent’s 2,290.
In a tighter race, Smullen had a 10-vote lead of 93-83 over Vincent in the Conservative Party primary.
In the Fulton County Family Court race, J. Gerard McAuliffe Jr. defeated Michael Smrtic in both the Republican and Conservative parties primaries. McAuliffe, Fulton County’s public defender, took in 2,117 votes to Smrtic’s 1,890 in the Republican Party primary and edged Smrtic by 10 votes, 49-39, in the Conservative Party primary.
“Low voter turnout played a role, but I’m proud of the race I ran. I feel bad for some of the attorneys who supported me, I feel like I let them down a little bit,” Smrtic said.
In Amsterdam’s Third Ward Common Council seat, Irene Collins won a special Democratic primary against
incumbent Arthur V. Iannuzzi. Collins won received 97 votes, 60.3 percent to Iannuzzi’s 39.8 percent.
Collins and Iannuzzi will face each other in the November general election, with Iannuzzi running as an independent.
“I’m going to have to run a similar campaign for the general that I ran when I ran for city controller, reaching out to Republicans,
Conservatives and independents as well as Democrats,” Collins said.
In Schenectady County, Republican state Sen. James Tedisco comfortably won his opportunity to ballot primary challenge on the Reform Party line with 61 percent of the 1,091 votes cast. Tedisco’s opponent, who was not named on the ballot, was described by his spokesman Adam Kramer as funded by special interest groups from downstate that wanted a Democratic controlled State Senate.
While New York runs on a closed primary system, unaffiliated, or self-described independent voters, were able to vote in the Reform Party primary.
In the primary for Schenectady County clerk on the Reform Party line, Democrat Cara Jasenski Ackerley led Republican candidate Nicholas Barber late Thursday night by 179 votes with all precincts reporting. The Schenectady County Board of Elections said absentee ballots were yet to be counted.
In one of the few GOP primaries in the region, Saratoga County District Attorney Karren Heggen held a 2-to-1 lead over Saratoga Springs defense attorney Gerard Amedio with 60 percent of precincts reporting. In a speech on her campaign’s Facebook page, Heggen touted the lead and all but declared victory shortly before 11 p.m.
Many voters, such as Pat Lambert and Bill Shapiro in Niskayuna, were drawn to the polls with their principle concerns being corruption in Albany and the behavior of President Donald Trump.
Lambert, who voted for Zephyr Teachout in the attorney general primary, was unable to vote for county clerk on the Reform Party line, but nonetheless felt that she was making an impact by picking Teachout.
“If you read her book, you’ll realize she knows more about corruption than anyone,” Lambert said.
“Harvard University Press, that’s no vanity publication,” her husband Dave chimed in.
Shapiro shared similar concerns with corruption, but voted for Leecia Eve instead, a choice he almost immediately regretted.
“[Teachout] was my second choice,” Shapiro said. “I should have done my homework.”
Democratic state Senate candidate Michelle Ostrellich was also spotted at the Niskayuna Town Hall polling place, saying she was there to thank polling volunteers for their service. She declined to say whom she voted for in the gubernatorial and attorney general primaries ahead of her clash in November with Tedisco.
Kathy Roberts left the Niskayuna polling place satisfied that she came out to vote, even in a primary in a mid-term election year.
“I paid a lot more attention this year than I normally would have,” Roberts said. “The ads definitely had me going deeper than I typically would.”
Now that the field is set for November, voters like Shapiro and the Lamberts said they hope some sort of balance will be struck to fight corruption in Albany, and that they plan on coming back to the polls with the same priorities in mind.