Smullen defeats Rubino, Santabarbara re-elected to Assembly

Tague, Steck, Woerner also victorious
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara at the Hibernian Hall in Schenectady Tuesday, November 8, 2016.
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara at the Hibernian Hall in Schenectady Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

Republican Robert Smullen won a commanding majority of votes Tuesday night in the Republican dominated 118th Assembly District, despite facing a felony charge of filing a false instrument. 

Smullen’s opponent, Keith Rubino, of Herkimer, conceded defeat at approximately 10:30 p.m. With 105 of 116 election districts reporting, Smullen, of Johnstown, had a more than 10,000-vote lead over Rubino, according to the unofficial results.

In Fulton County, the most populated county in the rural district, Smullen captured 63.2 percent of the vote (10,303) to Rubino’s 32 percent (5,204) with 763 blank votes on which no candidate was chosen in the race. 

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Rubino said he wished Smullen luck and said he hopes he will be able to secure funding for the district. 

“I think when people lose, the general consensus is that they get knocked down and people hope they don’t get back up,” Rubino said. “We ran a really positive, clean campaign. So, I’ll be watching Mr. Smullen as an assemblyman. I’ll be watching the district to see how things pan out with funding, and if I don’t think he’s holding up his end of the bargain, I may run against him again in two years.”

Smullen was arrested by the New York State Police in July for allegedly having two primary-residence-only military combat tax exemptions on homes he owns in Johnstown and Niskayuna. The charge was based on an allegation by two Johnstown Town Board members who argued Smullen was a resident of Niskayuna, which is not in the 118th Assembly District. The charge filed against Smullen, however, affirms he resides in Johnstown, though his wife and family appear to live in Niskayuna, at least during the school year. 

Smullen is facing a grand jury in Schenectady County, which will choose to either indict him on the charge of filing a false instrument, or issue a “no-bill” ruling that will likely result in the charges against Smullen being dismissed. Smullen has vowed to testify in front of the grand jury himself, waiving his 5th Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. 

If convicted of a felony, Smullen would be ineligible to serve in the Assembly, despite his victory Tuesday night. Smullen has admitted to having both tax exemptions and has agreed to pay back money owed to the town of Niskayuna, the Niskayuna Central School District and Schenectady County. Smullen has argued he had no criminal intent in filing the two exemptions. 

Smullen did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday night. 

111th Assembly District 

Incumbent Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, defeated challenger Republican Schenectady County legislator Brian McGarry. Santabarbara received 20,814 votes, 52.8 percent of the total. McGarry got 45.2 percent of the vote, 17,796 votes total. Santabarbara defeated McGarry in each of the counties of the district, with his largest margin of victory in part of Schenectady County where he took in 53.9 percent of the vote, 11,847 votes to McGarry’s 44.5 percent, 9,778 votes. 

102nd Assembly District 

In a rematch of a much tighter special election race in May, incumbent Republican Christopher Tague, of Schoharie, defeated Democrat challenger Aiden O’Connor Jr., of East Durham, Greene County, by about 14 percentage points. Tague garnered 28,053 votes to 20,858 for O’Connor. During the special election O’Connor lost by only 159 votes, but there was a third party candidate rogue Republican Wes Laraway who took in about 10 percent of the vote. 

Tague enjoyed his largest margin of victory in Schoharie County, where he took in 63 percent of the vote, 7,403 to O’Connor’s 4,006. 

O’Connor said he wouldn’t change anything about the campaign he ran. 

“I could not be more proud of our campaign, our staff, our volunteers and the message that we had. It was just beautiful,” he said. “It would have been exciting to have a paramedic in the New York state Assembly for the first time. It was a hard loss, as it always is, but I’m ready to get back up tomorrow morning and start to look for ways in the local community to help.” 

110th Assembly District 

Democratic incumbent Assemblyman Phil Steck, of Loudenville,  defeated Republican Christopher Carey, a Colonie councilman and former police detective. Steck gained 58.5 percent of the vote, 29,218, to Carey’s 38.9, 19,437. 

113th Assembly District 

Incumbent Democrat Carrie Woerner, of Round Lake, defeated political newcomer Morgan Zegers, of Malta. With 113 of 116 election districts reported Tuesday night Woerner, a former village trustee, had taken in 55.2 percent of the vote, 28,199, to Zegers 42.5 percent, 21,737. Woerner received her widest margin of victory in Saratoga County, getting 56.3 percent of the vote, 22,163 to Zegers 41.3 percent, 16,264. 

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