As institutional Republican support of Donald Trump slowly crumbles in the wake of his recently released lewd comments from 2005, local GOP candidates are denouncing the comments, but not the candidate.
Local Republican candidates for Congress and the New York state legislature spoke out against Trump’s decade-old remarks, but none explicitly said they wouldn’t vote for the Republican nominee. Democratic leaders and candidates in the Capital Region have called on GOP members to renounce support of Trump in the wake of the latest scandal.
“It is time for Republican elected officials to tell us all where they stand in light of their presidential candidate’s admission of serial acts of sexual misconduct against women,” said Saratoga County Democratic Committee Chair Todd Kerner in a statement.
The Washington Post on Friday published video from 2005 that showed Trump making comments to Access Hollywood host Billy Bush about kissing and groping women without their consent. Following the release of that tape, and Trump’s performance during Sunday night’s presidential debate, numerous high-profile Republicans, including Sen. John McCain, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former New York Gov. George Pataki said they would not vote for Trump in November’s election, while others have called for Trump to step down.
On Monday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would no longer campaign for Trump, but stopped short of rescinding his endorsement.
Wendy Long, who is running for United State Senator against Chuck Schumer, said she found the tape disgusting and repulsive, but said she would still support his candidacy.
“I’m not willing to walk away from him over it because that means I would be throwing our country under the bus,” she said.
In Capital Region races, candidates struck a similar tone. Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, who is running to replace Hugh Farley in the state’s 49th Senate District, denounced Trump’s comments, but called on his opponent to focus on the issues.
“Recently disclosed comments from 11 years ago made by Donald Trump were totally unacceptable, wrong, and inappropriate,” Tedisco said in a statement. “In no way should women ever be talked about in that manner.”
Tedisco’s opponent, Chad Putman, held a press conference on Monday in downtown Schenectady. Flanked by about 10 supporters, Putman called on Tedisco to disavow his support of Trump.
“When it comes to party loyalty trumping human dignity, it’s clear where Tedisco’s allegiances lie,” Putman said. “There’s been no shortage of opportunities for Assembly member Tedisco to condemn the Republican nominee.”
In his statement, Tedisco said what matters is the issues facing the 49th Senate District, which stretches from Schenectady and Saratoga counties across the southern Adirondacks to Herkimer County.
“I’m not running for president,” he said in a statement.
In an August interview, Tedisco said he didn’t agree with Trump on every issue or how he sometimes expressed himself, but added that the country couldn’t afford four years of Hillary Clinton.
Tedisco, who previously represented the 112th assembly district for more than 30 years, also said Putman should hold Clinton to the same standard regarding her emails and treatment of women who have alleged her husband sexually abused them.
In the race to replace Tedisco, Republican candidate Mary Beth Walsh said Trump’s choice of words in 2005, while disappointing, pales in comparison to Clinton’s actions related to her email server. The 112th district includes parts of Schenectady and Saratoga counties.
“My support for Mr. Trump is not based on a shared values system,” Walsh said in an email. “Perhaps the Saratoga County Democratic Committee should do some of their own soul-searching. Actions, of course, speak louder than words.”
Sen. George Amedore, who represents the 46th Senate District and is running against Democrat Sara Niccoli, also said he is focused on issues facing the state, but called Trump’s comments from 2005 “inappropriate and unacceptable.”
In the 20th Congressional District, Republican challenger Joe Vitollo tweeted on Monday in support of Trump. Vitollo is looking to unseat incumbent Paul Tonko, who has represented the district since 2009.
“Hillary is a lying disenfranchising elitist hypocrite and the polls don’t fool me or sway me Taxes Debt Immigration Nat. Security #VoteTrump,” he wrote.
In two of the region’s more hotly contested Congressional races, Republican candidates have been largely non-committal on whether to publicly support Trump.
Elise Stefanik, the Republican incumbent in the 21st Congressional District, posted a statement on her Facebook page after the Trump tape was released that stopped short of withdrawing support for the Republican presidential nominee.
“Donald Trump’s inappropriate, offensive comments are just wrong,” she wrote. “No matter when he said them or whatever the context. I hope his apology is sincere.”
The race in New York’s 19th Congressional District between Republican John Faso and Democrat Zephyr Teachout has been one of the most competitive in the state. In an Oct. 3 New York Times article, Faso said he would “support the Republican nominee,” but refused to say whether or not he’d be voting for Trump.
Reach Gazette reporter Brett Samuels at 395-3113, [email protected] or @Brett_Samuels27 on Twitter.