GLOVERSVILLE — Mayor Dayton King, a registered Republican, encouraged Republicans in the 118th Assembly District to tell Robert Smullen they voted for him, if they feel like they have to, but to vote for Democrat Keith Rubino instead.
King crossed party lines Friday to endorse Democrat Keith Rubino, of Herkimer, for the Assembly seat.
King said he believes Gloversville and Fulton County will be better served by a member of the majority party in the state Assembly — the Democrats. King said he’s tired of seeing cities represented by Democratic Assembly members get more state funding than local communities.
“We see not too far away the city of Amsterdam, where they have a Republican senator and a Democratic assemblyman, and they just won the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative,” King said. “Contrast us with the city of Amsterdam, which is very comparable. They actually had so much money from their legislators that they had to give money back. I don’t know what that feels like, but I’d like to find out.”
In his endorsement, King cited a 2015 Politico New York story that showed Assembly Democrats in 2014 received $34 million for pet projects in their districts, while Republican Assembly members received $2 million.
The New York state Assembly has 150 members, 103 of whom are Democrats and 41 of whom are Republicans. There is one Independence Party member, former Republican Fred Thiele Jr., of the 1st District. Four seats in the Assembly are currently vacant.
King has long been a rogue Republican, winning the mayor’s office in Gloversville three times, despite never receiving the endorsement of the city’s or the county’s Republican committees. Retiring 118th District Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport, endorsed King’s Republican opponent in the 2017 mayoral election — William Rowback Jr. — as did state Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville.
King said he has no animosity toward Republicans who’ve supported his opponents, and he praised Tedisco during his speech, even though King campaigned for Tedisco’s Republican primary opponent, Christian Klueg.
King previously announced his intention to leave the Republican party and become an independent, which he said he plans to do by the end of the year. King said he remained a registered Republican this year so he could vote in the Republican Party primary, often the only significant election in Republican-dominated Fulton County.
In the 118th Assembly District, there are about 39,748 registered Republicans and 21,803 registered Democrats.
Rubino’s opponent, Republican Robert Smullen, of Johnstown, has received the endorsements of the Fulton County Republican Committee, Assemblyman Butler, the St. Lawrence County Republican Committee, Johnstown Supervisor Jack Wilson and many other prominent Republicans in the district.
Johnstown Town Board member Timothy Rizzo was not among them. Rizzo said he’s another Republican who is supporting Rubino. He said he’s walked door to door handing out information about Rubino.
Rizzo, along with Town Board member Don VanDuesen, registered a complaint with the state police in July, saying Smullen committed property tax fraud by claiming a primary-residence-only military combat veteran tax exemption for houses he owns in Johnstown and Niskayuna simultaneously.
The state police charged Smullen with felony filing a false instrument but said he filed the false exemption in Niskayuna, affirming he lives in Johnstown, though his wife and family appear to live in Niskayuna, at least during the school year. Niskayuna is not in the 118th Assembly District.
Rizzo and VanDuesen have argued Smullen really lives in Niskayuna and owes the town of Johnstown $691 in unpaid property taxes.
Smullen agreed to repay Niskayuna, its school district and Schenectady County but has maintained that he had no criminal intent and that he is a legal resident of Johnstown.
“I still think he lives in Niskayuna,” Rizzo said Friday at King’s endorsement announcement. “With Smullen, I just don’t see any honesty in him.”
Rubino said he was honored to receive King’s endorsement.
“Bipartisanship matters,” he said. “We have a country right now that is extremely divided, and we have a lot of people who focus on Democrat versus Republican and the values of one party versus another party because you’re on this side or that side. I think us being here today shows we are looking at the bigger picture.
“I want to make Dayton proud. I want to make the people behind me proud, and I want to make the district proud to know that when they send me to Albany, they will have someone fighting day in and dayout to take care of the funding that we need in this district in order to rise up — that we haven’t gotten in a long time.”
King said Republicans shouldn’t be afraid to support Rubino because he’s not in favor of taking away their guns.
“I want to encourage people that on Nov. 6, in the 118th Assembly District and throughout America, we vote by secret ballot, so nobody is ever going to know who you voted for,” King said. “Think hard about this. It’s a two-year term. I’m going to challenge the people of our city … to take a chance, for 700 and some days on Mr. Rubino, and if in two years he’s not doing what he said he would do, sorry Keith, we’re voting you out. Is that OK?
“I’ll go back to working my job that I currently have,” Rubino said.
“All right, so, I’m going to say take that chance; you can tell Mr. Smullen you voted for him. He won’t know,” King added.
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