Gloversville Republicans are not singing “Kumbaya” and holding hands after their mayoral endorsement.
The city’s Republican Committee officially endorsed retired elementary school principal and Gloversville Fifth Ward Supervisor Michael Ponticello on Saturday morning. This is the second time the committee has rejected Dayton King, the incumbent mayor, a Republican who won in 2009 as a third-party candidate.
“This comes as no surprise to me,” King said of the endorsement, admitting he is still disappointed.
Despite this setback, he plans on competing for the Republican nomination in a primary. Regardless of the possibility of winning the GOP line, he said he will run as an independent in the general election, creating a third-party line like he did in 2009.
“I beat the party once and I’ll beat them again,” King said. “I think the city as a whole is behind me.”
City Republican Chairwoman Karen Smith wouldn’t comment on the specifics about not endorsing the incumbent, which is a break from traditional politics.
“We endorsed the candidate that we feel is best for the city of Gloversville,” she said.
The committee interviewed three candidates, including King, Ponticello and an unidentified person who withdrew after the interview.
Smith said the committee liked that Ponticello had roots in the city and experience with budgets from his time as a principal. But mostly, she said, “It’s his passion for Gloversville. You can hear it in his voice.”
Ponticello said the decision to run, which he has been considering for months, stemmed from a desire to take on a leadership role. He will be campaigning on neighborhood revitalization to spur economic development, “kind of spruce [the city] up a little bit,” he said.
His background includes being a teacher, coach, library trustee and a board member for the Gloversville Little League and Gloversville Senior Citizen Home. Last year he crashed his vehicle into a utility pole and police charged him with driving while intoxicated, for which Ponticello publicly apologized.
The endorsement by the Republicans likely sets up a primary, with both candidates needing to circulate petitions to get on the primary ballot on Sept. 10. Ponticello will be aided by members of the Republican committee.
King narrowly lost the 2009 Republican primary, but is confident the committee’s endorsement doesn’t reflect how Republicans in the city feel about him. Ponticello also felt like he could win the primary, saying he wouldn’t be running otherwise.
Because Ponticello was also endorsed by the city’s Conservative Party, he will have a spot on the general election ballot regardless of the outcome of a Republican primary. Only a person registered with the Conservative Party can primary him for the line, unless the party grants a waiver, as it will likely do for Ponticello. He said that even if the Republican primary doesn’t go his way, he will campaign in the fall as the Conservative candidate.
King also plans on campaigning in the fall. In 2009 he ran under the banner of the Accountability Party, an independent line he created, and this year he said he is ready to do the same. This route is possible, he said, “because when people think of me, they don’t think he’s a Republican.”
It’s not yet clear who the Democratic nominee will be.
Republicans greatly outnumber Democratic voters in the city, but unaffiliated voters make up a large minority of the enrollment.