Longtime Assemblyman Jim Tedisco soundly defeated newcomer Chad Putman on Tuesday to win election to the 49th state Senate District seat being vacated by Hugh Farley.
The Glenville Republican’s victory will play an important part in the political balance in the Senate — the Republican Party is struggling to retain its control of the chamber despite a better-than 2-1 statewide voter enrollment advantage for the Democrats.
Results were still unofficial late Tuesday, as The Daily Gazette went to press, but the state Board of Elections tally showed Tedisco at 81,084 votes and Putman at 35,370 votes with all 228 election districts reporting.
Shortly before midnight, Tedisco told The Gazette he was excited about the victory and about what is ahead. His entire Assembly career has been in the minority but indications three hours after the polls closed were that the Republican-led coalition would continue to hold power in the Senate — putting him in the majority when he is sworn in.
“I’m excited about that. I’ve been in the desert for a while under difficult circumstances,” he said.
Tedisco said his priority will be raising ethics and fighting corruption, and he’ll work to convince his colleagues that they have the power to make changes for the better — independently of the leadership.
“I want to change the whole dynamic.”
Tedisco also noted there appeared not to have been any negative down-ticket effect for him running on the same party line as the controversial Donald Trump. If anything, Tedisco said, it may have helped.
Putman conceded the race a couple of hours after polls closed.
“It’s been an incredible run, an incredible journey,” he said. “Being a first-time candidate has been such an honor to champion the causes of the people of the 49th District. I look forward to congratulating Senator-elect Tedisco and working with him in the future.”
Putman said he would remain involved in the issues of the district.
“I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to continue to fight to promote manufacturing, to work with SCCC on an agriculture program and on seeing what can be done about reducing student loan debt.”
Tedisco was first elected to the Assembly 34 years ago and has been re-elected every two years since. Farley, R-Niskayuna, is retiring after an even longer legislative career — 40 years in the Senate — and had endorsed Tedisco to replace him.
Democrat Putman is Schenectady’s deputy city clerk and has never held elected office.
Tedisco, 66, is a familiar face around the Capital Region, having attended innumerable community events over more than three decades in office.
He rose as high as minority leader in the Assembly but surrendered that post in April 2009 while running in a special election for the 20th Congressional District, which he lost by a razor-thin margin to Democrat Scott Murphy.
Tedisco campaigned on the promise of continuing his record of constituent service in the Senate and handily defeated a Fulton County newcomer in September’s Republican primary.
Putman, 41, ran on the promise of shaking up the status quo and giving constituents a fresh face and new perspective. He said his time spent in municipal government and his background as a social worker would make him an asset in the state Legislature, better able to work with others and find solutions.
Campaign finance was among his focus points. Putman said his campaign refused donations from corporations and political action committees, as he believes corruption is tied to money in politics.
The 49th state Senate District sprawls across five counties: parts of Schenectady, Saratoga and Herkimer counties, plus all of Fulton and Hamilton.
Its demographics are equally broad, ranging from the wealthy, densely populated suburbs of Niskayuna and Clifton Park, to the struggling old cities of Gloversville and Johnstown, to tourist-friendly Old Forge, to the wilderness of Long Lake.
Districtwide, there were 199,627 registered voters as of Nov. 1, according to the state Board of Elections. These included 74,071 enrolled as Republicans, 60,672 enrolled as Democrats and 48,020 enrolled in no party. Within the district, Republicans held the advantage in every county except Schenectady.
Statewide, there were 12,493,250 registered voters as of Nov. 1, including 6,179,734 enrolled as Democrats, 2,839,704 enrolled as Republicans and 2,720,139 enrolled in no party.
Reach Gazette Business Editor John Cropley at 395-3104, [email protected] or @cropjohn on Twitter.