Republican primary voters picked Roy McDonald Tuesday and Democrats chose Michael Russo as their candidates to succeed former Sen. Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick.
McDonald, currently a state assemblyman from the town of Saratoga, easily defeated Raymond Seney, a councilman in the Rensselaer County town of Nassau.
Russo, former district director for U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-Greenport, and before that a union official, defeated Brian Premo, an attorney from Brunswick.
That means McDonald will face Russo in the November election for the 43rd Senate District, which includes most of Saratoga Springs and eastern Saratoga County, and all of Rensselaer County.
Unofficial results showed McDonald and Russo winning both counties.
In the Working Families Party primary, the winner was Christopher Consuello, who defeated Premo in Rensselaer County by 100 votes to 72, but lost by three votes in Saratoga County.
In Saratoga County, with all districts reporting, McDonald got 5,865 votes to Seney’s 890, and Russo got 3,011 votes to Premo’s 856.
In Rensselaer County, with all election districts reporting, McDonald got 2,914 votes to Seney’s 617, and Russo got 2,473 votes to Premo’s 1,873.
“I’m honored that they selected me,” McDonald said Tuesday evening in Lansingburgh, where he grew up. He congratulated all the candidates, saying he plans to run a positive campaign in the fall, staying away from negative and partisan politics and focusing on the issues people want addressed.
Russo also said he wants a positive campaign. “Roy and I have a mutual respect for each other,” he said.
Russo said he would like to go from town to town with McDonald debating the issues, to inform the voters and help them decide whom to support.
The seat has been vacant since the resignation of Bruno, who was Senate majority leader for 131⁄2 years until he stepped down this summer.
McDonald ran as Bruno’s endorsed successor, portraying himself as the same kind of politician, a working-class, compassionate conservative who can deliver results for ordinary people.
Russo, too, had good things to say about Bruno, and had endorsed him in prior years as a member of an AFL-CIO committee.
As majority leader, Bruno was in a position to deliver large amounts of aid to his district, and his successor will not have that kind of clout. In fact, it’s not even clear which candidate would be in the Senate majority, since control of the chamber, where Republicans now hold a one-vote majority, is very much up for grabs this year.
Premo had tried to run against Bruno two years ago, but was knocked off the ballot by the state Board of Elections and a state court. He and Seney both ran antiestablishment campaigns, attacking state government and special interests.
Russo stressed traditional Democratic positions, such as job creation, education funding and access to health care, along with farm protection through smart growth. While Premo supported Gov. David Paterson’s call for a school property tax cap, Russo opposed it.
In fact Russo supported an Assembly Democratic bill that McDonald voted for, providing property-tax relief to lower-income people, and raising income taxes on the rich. McDonald stresses his former record as a town and county supervisor of cutting and eliminating taxes.
While the Republicans’ registration advantage in the district has been shrinking in recent years, there are still 77,258 of them compared to 58,856 Democrats. There are 61,137 voters not enrolled in any party.