Assemblyman Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga, formally announced his campaign for state Senate Wednesday, while a rival for the Republican nomination, Ray Seney, blasted the front-runner and the party establishment.
McDonald made two announcements, the first in Troy, his hometown, where the gathered supporters included Sen. Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, the former Senate majority leader. Bruno is not running for re-election in the 43rd Senate District, and Republican Party leaders in both Saratoga and Rensselaer counties have endorsed McDonald as his successor.
Seney, a councilman and former supervisor in the Rensselaer County town of Nassau, issued a statement complaining about the number of Republican county committee members getting signatures for McDonald, which means “the chance for another Republican to even get on to the ballot [is] seriously reduced.” Candidates must files petitions with 1,000 valid signatures by July 10.
Seney also alleged that McDonald moved from Wilton, where he had been town supervisor, to the town of Saratoga “purely for his own personal benefit so he could be hand-picked for the Senate job. That should send a message loud and clear that his priorities are not for the people he represents. They are focused on himself and the Republican political machine. How can he be trusted to not abandon his new constituents for another hand-delivered job?”
Wilton is in the district of Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, whom McDonald once challenged unsuccessfully in a Republican primary. Farley, along with other GOP leaders, is now backing McDonald.
Asked about Seney’s statement after his second announcement in Saratoga Springs, McDonald said his move three years ago to Saratoga was not political, that he grew up in what is now Bruno’s district, and has many ties there.
In his announcement speech, McDonald cited his record of support for working people, taxpayers, veterans and the disabled.
McDonald declined to state a position on Gov. David Paterson’s program bill to cap school property taxes at a 4 percent annual increase. He said he stands for low taxes, noting that Wilton has no town property tax, and wants the property tax issue addressed soon in a comprehensive manner.
Joanne Yepsen, the Saratoga County supervisor from Saratoga Springs who is one of the Democratic candidates for the Senate seat, also declined to answer a question about Paterson’s program bill. She said she stands for open and responsive government, and will be issuing position papers soon.
Another Democratic candidate, Mike Russo, said he is not prepared to support Paterson’s bill because it does not provide for adequate school funding. Russo said he wants to put the entire state tax system on the table, and would be in favor of moving away from property taxes toward more income and sales taxes.
At McDonald’s announcement, a supporter of the endorsed Democratic candidate, Brian Premo, was handing out cards saying it’s time to fix the “most dysfunctional Legislature in the nation” — an apparent reference to a report by the reform-minded Brennan Center for Justice in New York City.
Premo, like McDonald, is originally from Lansingburgh in North Troy. He now lives in Brunswick and works as an attorney in Albany.
Russo works as district director for U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Greenport, but is quitting that job so that he can run for the Senate. His last day with the congresswoman is July 11.
Russo lives in the town of Saratoga, but said his base is districtwide.