McCalmon suspends campaign and endorses Ostrelich in race for 44th state senate seat

Thearse McCalmon steps away from the podium, with Michelle Ostrelich in the background, during a press event on Friday outside the Schenectady County Board of Elections where McCalmon suspended her campaign for the 44th State Senate District, endorsing fellow Democrat Ostrelich.
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Thearse McCalmon steps away from the podium, with Michelle Ostrelich in the background, during a press event on Friday outside the Schenectady County Board of Elections where McCalmon suspended her campaign for the 44th State Senate District, endorsing fellow Democrat Ostrelich.

NEWS Democrat Thearse McCalmon on Friday suspended her campaign for the New York State Senate’s 44th District, formally endorsing fellow Democrat Michelle Ostrelich while citing the need for unity.

In a joint appearance with Ostrelich outside the Schenectady County Board of Elections, McCalmon said her decision to support Ostrelich stands in contrast to the race’s Republican primary, which features sitting State Senators James Tedisco and Daphne Jordan locked in a fierce and personal battle.

“We are watching the drama happening within the Republican party with Tedisco and Jordan, and as entertaining as it may be to some, it is an embarrassment to me,” said McCalmon, who lives in Schenectady. “We are already living in fractured, uncertain times. Unity is a necessity.”

The newly redrawn 44th district includes all of Saratoga County as well the city of Schenectady and the town of Niskayuna in Schenectady County.

Ostrelich, of Niskayuna, has served on the Schenectady County Legislature since 2019. In 2018, she lost by more than 20,000 votes in a race against Tedisco for the state senate’s 49th seat. While she won that race’s Schenectady County vote by fewer than 1,000 votes, she lost that race’s Saratoga County vote by more than 10,000.

Tedisco, of Glenville, decided to challenge Jordan, of Halfmoon, in the newly redrawn 44th district this year, instead of setting up a general election campaign against longtime Democratic State Senator Neil Breslin in the redrawn 46th district, in which Tedisco currently resides.

Ostrelich said she will be campaigning on issues ranging from women’s rights to infrastructure to the environment.

“Keeping the New York State Senate Democratically led will move all of that forward for the folks in our district, and for all of New York State,” Ostrelich said.

In statements, both Republican candidates wished their opponents well but railed against state Democrats.

“I guess the good news is that now there’s one less Democratic (candidate) running for the state senate. The bad news for voters is that it’s Michelle Ostrelich, who’d be another rubber stamp for the senate Democratic majority’s failed radical, socialist agenda,” Jordan said in a statement.

Tedisco said: “Today’s news underscores what I’ve been saying–this is a highly competitive purple senate district, and I am the best candidate to stand up to the one-party total domination of state government by the Democratic socialist progressives.”

Ostrelich is an experienced and inclusive candidate, said McCalmon.

“She has been a great asset to have in the Schenectady County Legislature and has been a great support to others who want to get involved in the community or in politics,” McCalmon said. “I fully respect her and appreciate everything she has done and wants to do for Schenectady and Saratoga.”

Ostrelich also on Friday received the support of former Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen, who appeared at the press conference.

“(The voters) are craving strong leadership, they are craving unity. They don’t want the infighting that’s happening on the Republican side,” Yepsen said. “Michelle understands Saratoga County as well as Schenectady County.”

McCalmon, who is a community advocate who is open about her family’s experience dealing with homelessness nearly two decades ago, currently works as an instructor at Capital Region BOCES. She has run unsuccessfully for mayor in Schenectady and for state senate–losing a 2020 race to Tedisco–but she did not rule out future political ambitions.

“You don’t always have to hold office to be effective,” McCalmon said Friday. “I may run again, who knows. We’ll see.”

Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.

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