Democrat seeks to force primary in race to topple Tedisco

Newcomer Donovan McRae offers COVID-heavy platform
Donovan McRae
Donovan McRae

Categories: News, Schenectady County

SCHENECTADY — Another Democrat has thrown his hat into the ring to take on Republican state Sen. Jim Tedisco of Glenville.

Donovan McRae announced his candidacy for state Senate District 49 on Friday.

“I began this uphill journey not to seize headlines, but to offer a pragmatic approach to legislating that considers the diverse perspectives that exist in the 49th District and across the state of New York,” McRae said in a released statement.

McRae, 27, lives in the city’s Stockade neighborhood and grew up on Long Island before relocating to the Capital Region in 2018.


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McRae owns a brand management LLC but had to take a side gig during the pandemic and was recently hired by the Capital District Transit Authority as a bus driver.

His entry sets up a Democratic primary contest against Thearse McCalmon, who nearly routed city Mayor Gary McCarthy in a close race last year.

McCarthy threw his support behind McRae, who has also been endorsed by the city Democratic Committee and has circulated enough petitions to gain ballot access for the June 23 contest.

“He brings a new youthful perspective to this office,” McCarthy said, adding “his focus on the economy and education says a lot about his priorities.”

McRae also received an endorsement from county Democratic Chairman Joe Landry.

McRae has presented a platform heavy on relief efforts, proposing a five-point plan to restart a state economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan, he said, aims to “build partnerships with local governments, schools, hospitals, local businesses in manufacturing and other industries to rebuild our resilient economy in a coordinated manner.”

He envisions a number of AmeriCorps-type programs mobilized to bolster each industry.

To pay for them, McRae proposes using federal aid and new revenue streams, including a stock transfer tax proposed by state Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie.

McRae also called for full funding of public schools and expanding internship opportunities for high-schoolers.

McCalmon, 42, announced her campaign in February and has presented herself as a progressive alternative to Tedisco, running on boosting education aid, universal health care and challenging the power of corporations.

“It’s nice that he wants to announce his candidacy now, but if he really wants to lead this district to some sort of financial solvency and community action, where has he been during this pandemic?” McCalmon said. “We need leaders every day, during the good and bad times — not when it’s politically convenient.”

McCalmon touted her campaign’s work in the community during the ongoing pandemic, including distributing masks, calling neighbors and soliciting ideas for future legislation.

“But a late plan is better than never,” McCalmon said. “I thank him for his input.”

Tedisco, 69, has been a prominent figure in local and regional politics for nearly four decades.

Before being elected to the seat in 2016 he represented the Schenectady region in the state Assembly for more than three decades.


Tedisco, who has clinched the Republican, Conservative and Independence ballot lines, said he “appreciates and welcomes” anyone who wants to enter public service.

“However, I’m surprised, as I thought the Schenectady County Democratic hierarchy valued and supported women candidates,” Tedisco said. “It appears they have a very long memory when it comes to their established candidates being challenged.”

Tedisco said he’s “110 percent” focused on helping constituents navigate the pandemic, including providing relief for small businesses and those struggling to obtain unemployment insurance.

“Now my priority is to urge my colleagues to use this crisis as a learning experience and prepare for the potential of a second wave of this virus or some other pandemic so our state is not caught off-guard again by stockpiling enough PPEs, ventilators, masks and other equipment to save more lives and mitigate the spread of the disease,” Tedisco said.

Tedisco is among the Senate Republicans calling for an investigation and hearings into the state’s response to coronavirus outbreaks in state-regulated nursing homes.

The lawmaker also said he’ll also continue to push for rural broadband, find solutions to stave off upstate population loss and advocate for St. Clare’s Hospital pensioners, who saw their pensions either reduced or eliminated.
The 49th Senate District, which stretches from Schenectady into the central Adirondacks, has historically elected Republicans.

The district has 72,041 registered Republicans, 63,515 registered Democrats, and 48,416 voters who are not enrolled in a political party.

The district includes all of Fulton and Hamilton counties, and parts of Herkimer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties, including the city of Schenectady.

While Democrats have an enrollment advantage in Schenectady County, the Republicans have the advantage in all of the other counties.

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