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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Friday, September 28

Grand Old Party

Saratoga County Republicans will have a new leader steering the GOP boat after this weekend. With longtime GOP Chair John "Jasper" Nolan stepping down from the helm after this most recent primary race, the committee will elect his replacement this weekend.

The two men vying to fill the big shoes of the 27-year chairman are County Vice Chairman John Herrick of Saratoga Springs and former county Treasurer Chris Callaghan of Waterford.

In the end, I'm sure both men are happy they are taking the reigns after the contentious GOP primary that pitted the old guard against the voice of change and not before. Nolan was on the losing side of that primary, endorsing Roy McDonald for the duration of the election and standing by him on primary night watching the votes come in.

I didn't see Herrick or Callaghan at the McDonald camp primary night (maybe I missed them, but I don't think so), and I don't know if they were at the Kathy Marchione party, but both (I'm told) watched her claim victory at her headquarters Tuesday.

I spoke to Herrick Tuesday shortly after the victory speech, and while speaking to him Joe Kakaty, Marchione's finance chair, interjected to make a few points, one of which was an endorsement of Herrick as the chairman.

"I think he is very qualified to unify the party," he said.

I don't believe he was speaking on behalf of the campaign (I sent an e-mail to the campaign today to find out if they are endorsing anyone and never heard back), but on his own behalf.

It does speak, though, to the challenge ahead of whomever takes over the chairmanship. This primary put the GOP — a generally lock-step group — through hell, particularly in Saratoga County, where the two were seemingly best known and had the most friends/enemies.

In addition, the decision faux-endorsement early on of McDonald by Nolan and some of the Saratoga County GOP seemed to leave a bad taste in every Republican's mouth. Even the McDonald camp didn't seem all-together comfortable with it. 

 Regardless of the kind words exchanged between McDonald and Marchione after the fight was done (see yesterday's statements), they still drew a lot of blood and those scars don't always heal easy.

As Herrick said at the Marchione victory speech, "I definitely think the party will come together... some will come quicker than others."

Anyway, we'll see tomorrow who draws the short straw. 

Got this release today from the Wilton GOP Committee endorsing Herrick in the race:

Wilton Republican Committee Holds Reorganizational Meeting:
Re-Elects Kingsley Chairman, Endorses Herrick
(Wilton)  -  The Wilton Republican Committee held its re-organizational meeting for election of officers as required by Party by-laws on Tuesday, September 25, 2012.  
The Committee re-elected Scott Kingsley as Chairman and Elaine Gerber as Vice Chairman.  Also being elected were Christopher Ramsdill as Treasurer; Richard Duvall as Recording Secretary;Marilyn Monroe as Executive Secretary; and Gerard Zabala as Assistant Treasurer.
                The Committee also heard presentations and asked questions of the two declared candidates for Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Saratoga County Republican Committee.  After discussion, a straw vote was held on both positions.  In the Chairman’s  race, John Herrick received 86% of the weighted vote, Chris Callaghan 8% and Uncommitted 5%.  
                 In the Vice Chairman’s race, Wilton Town Chairman Scott Kingsley was endorsed on a voice vote.  He is being challenged by former Wilton Republican Chairwomen and Town Councilmember Shirley Needham. 
                 Call Chairman Scott Kingsley at 518-226-0369 or Vice Chair Elaine Gerber at 518.368.1106

Thursday, September 27

Statements about the news of the day

Statements were being crafted and released all morning/early afternoon about Roy McDonald dropping out of the race for the 43rd Senate District. If you are interested, I'm sure you've read all of these quotes before in every paper, but here are the statements in their entirety:

Statement from Roy McDonald
Will Not Actively Campaign on Independence Party Line
After discussing the issue with family, friends, campaign staff and trusted advisors, I’ve decided that I will not actively campaign in the General Election on the Independence Party line.
I want to thank all my supporters that have stood by me over the years, and everyone that voted in the Primary. Thank you to Senator Skelos for his leadership in the Republican Conference and for his faith in me through an appointment as the Chairman of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee. I also want to send a special thank you to the Independence Party leadership for their help and support.
Thank you to Governor Cuomo for his outstanding support, and for the great job he’s done for the citizens of New York State. He has my respect and friendship.
Moving forward, I will be supporting all Republican candidates – including Kathy Marchione – in the General Election, because I believe maintaining the Republican Majority in the New York State Senate will continue to positively change state government. It is important to recognize the need for checks and balances in our democracy, which can only be assured by a multi-party system.
This decision was made through significant reflection. I am very proud of my time in public service. Standing up for the communities I represented was always my first priority. I have been a Senator for all people.
As Wilton Town Supervisor, I had the opportunity to eliminate taxes and establish real economic development to help local families. Serving as a Saratoga County Supervisor, I authored the first county budget that cut taxes by twenty-five percent and made Saratoga the lowest taxed county in New York State.
It was humbling to be elected to serve our local communities in the state legislature as a member of the Assembly and Senate. I worked to extend our local success in Wilton and Saratoga County through bi-partisan partnerships and creative problem solving.
But my proudest accomplishments were helping to pass legislation that directly benefitted people. Patriot Plans I, II and III helped New York National Guard and Reserve veterans obtain the benefits they earned serving our country. We also started a pilot program to help returning combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) get the peer-to-peer counseling they need.  
The Saratoga-Washington on the Hudson Partnership was established to promote the historic significance and agricultural importance of this region. I was also honored to sponsor legislation that brought GLOBALFOUNDRIES to Saratoga County; this project is creating thousands of jobs along with numerous spin-off opportunities for new businesses.
The hallmark of a great society is protecting those who cannot protect themselves, and the Senate Republican Majority over the past two years allowed me to focus on an issue that has real significance in my life and increasing importance to families in New York State. As Chairman of the Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee, helping individuals with disabilities and standing up for their rights came to the forefront.
First, we passed autism insurance legislation that required health insurance providers to ensure diagnosis and treatment coverage for families that have a loved one persevering with autism. Before this legislation became law, coverage was routinely denied for autism.  Next, after an investigative report outlined unacceptable abuse taking place in developmental disabilities group homes, I sponsored legislation and partnered with Governor Cuomo to pass the Protection of People with Special Needs Act. This legislation created a process for abuse to be reported and investigated so that people are protected and criminals are adequately prosecuted.
I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to gain a new perspective on life, thanks to my two grandsons David and Jacob. Their achievements in overcoming a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum are truly inspiring. Regardless of where I am in life, I will continue advocating for people with special disabilities and working to help individuals and their families facing what always appear to be insurmountable circumstances – but with help and working together, I have learned they are not.
Led by Senator Skelos, the Senate Republicans accomplished much in the past two years. Late budgets were once a sign of Albany dysfunction, but two on-time budgets that closed multi-billion dollar budget gaps without raising taxes or fees demonstrated a desire to turn things around. In addition, we cut taxes for middle class families to their lowest levels in 58 years.
I want to thank my family for their love, support and for allowing me to share my time with the public while in office. My accomplishments are theirs because nothing would have been possible without their understanding of missed dance recitals due to board meetings, my absence at the dinner table because of late night budget negotiations and much more. Thank you to my wonderful wife Angela, and great daughters Stephanie, Jessica and Julie, my fantastic sons-in-law Matthew, Jeff and Charles, along with my wonderful grandsons Jacob and David.
 I congratulate Roy McDonald on a hard-fought race and I appreciate his support.  He’s a good man who works tirelessly for our community. Roy and I have been friends for more than 20 years. The primary, and everything that came with it, is behind us, and I still count him as a friend.

I entered this race because New York faces serious problems, and this campaign is about fixing them. The corruption in Albany needs to be stopped. Our state government taxes too much, spends too much, regulates too much and borrows too much. I’m looking forward to spending the next six weeks meeting voters and sharing our ideas to lower spending, clean up Albany and get New York working again.
# #


"Recently, Senator Roy McDonald informed me of his decision to step aside rather than run an active third-party campaign for the 43rd Senate District seat.

"Roy's decision was a difficult one, but ultimately it was the right choice for his party and for this Senate district.  The last thing he or anyone wanted to do was to turn this upstate seat over to the New York City-dominated Senate Democrats, who raised taxes by $14 billion and shifted resources out of the Capital District when they were in the majority.

"Roy McDonald has had a long and storied career in service to his community, state and nation.  He did a year-long tour in Vietnam, transformed the Town of Wilton as Supervisor, and served admirably in both the Assembly and Senate.

"Throughout it all, he was a staunch advocate for vulnerable people and those with special needs, including his own grandchildren.

"Roy McDonald has also been a valuable part of the work we've done over the last two years to control spending and taxes, help the private sector create new jobs and bring New York back.  I consider him a friend and wish him well in the future.

"Senator Libous and I look forward to working with Roy and all of our members to assist the Republican nominee, Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione, in her efforts to get elected to the State Senate so we can keep moving this state forward."


 Statement from Robin Andrews,

Democratic Candidate, 43rd Senate District

“Whenever a public servant decides to step away to from public life, one has to respect the years of service he and his family have given and I certainly feel that way about Senator McDonald.”

“Today’s news gives the voters of the 43rd Senate District a very clear choice. Political affiliation aside, people do not want a representative who continues to look to the past, they want someone focused on looking to the future and working with Governor Cuomo to continue building the new New York. My 20+ years in the private sector working as a budget and planning consultant have given me the tools needed to find creative ways to ensure that
government is taking steps to encourage growth and job creation, not smother it. I think people understand that problems cannot be solved by continuing to throw money at them or by slashing their budgets. We need sound decision making by people qualified to make those decisions and I am confident that I am that person for the 43rd Senate District.”


Wednesday, September 26

Oh, right, politics...

There was no shortage of Matt Doheny supporters at the debate hosted by the Adirondack Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday night in Queensbury between he and Bill Owens. Standing along the road leading to the event and filling the auditorium, they seemed to outnumber Owens supporters by a significant margin.

At the same time, it seemed the Doheny camp had more of its organization there, as well. I was offered several stickers and the signs everyone had were all the same (possibly mass-produced).

Either way, though, they were in full-force.

I wish I had my flip camera at the Doheny v. Owens debate as I was caught in the middle of a debate myself. This one was between supporters on each side (of my head and the issue or the Affordable Healthcare Act), both of whom thought their opinions were relevant enough to shout directly at me/each other.

The guy in front of me kept shouting random flippant remarks every time Doheny made some statement he considered false. ("You're a liar!" "Have you even read (Obamacare)!? All 4,000 pages of it?!")

The guy behind me, on the other hand, shouted periodically about Owens, but mostly gave encouragement to his man ("You tell them Matt!" "Repeal it!").

Then the two turned on each other. "Shut up you nit-wit!" the Doheny supporter shouted at the Owens man.

"That's me" the Owens man shouted back. "I've read it, have you!?"

Then, of course, there was Green Party candidate Don Hassig, whose Love the Earth, Protect the Earth, Change Everything platform was... interesting.

I like his ideas about free healthcare, free education, a cleaner environment and jobs for everyone, but I don't know if he's put together the logistics of how to get there yet. Pull out of the World Trade Organization, he said, would "make everything good" but I don't know if that's getting us all the way there.

And I have to gripe to someone about it so it may as well be you: Why was this guy in the forum?

He had to ask for clarification on a question about specific legislation and then changed his answer halfway through his response.

I'm all for open government and, in fact, I think the two-party system is fundamentally flawed (but a direct result of the Constitution i.e. the system of first-past-the-post voting, so we're kind of stuck with it), but to me it seemed like a distraction and a waste of everyone's time.

Mostly, I was upset because he took away from time we could have been hearing from the future congressional representative... one of the two men who were sitting to his right.

Monday, September 17

Da Bears... Blog

"We live in the North Country, so these things happen," said Department of Environmental Conservation Officer Jeffrey Dempster on Sept. 14, standing on Frederick Drive in Saratoga Springs with a pair of binoculars he was using to keep an eye on the 150 to 200 pound black bear in a tree about 100 feet away in someone's back yard.

That was the second reported bear sighting this year in the Spa City.

The first, of course, was the Skidmore bear a month before the Frederick Bear (as I've just dubbed him to keep things straight) was spotted.

Some have suggested maybe the bears are one in the same (some kind of Skiderick or Fredmore bear), including the Skidmore bear himself on his Twitter account, @SkidmoreBear, who claimed to be in a tree at the time of the Frederick Bear, but I suppose there are a lot of trees out there.

Anyway, Saturday another resident e-mailed to say she and her family saw a bear running down the road between Larkspur and Rip Van Lane on Adams Road at about 8 p.m. the day after the Frederick Bear sighting.

She called the police, who went over there but did not find any bear.

Obviously, this year bear sightings in Capital Region residential areas are on the rise (#Bearmageddon and #Bearpocolypse were both hash-tags that stood out on Twitter this year).

These bear sightings seem to be generating a lot of public interest (they have been the top stories read online every time we cover them) so I figured we could engage the community a little with this and try to map out where the bear(s) have been spotted.

I'm sure there have been more sightings, but I haven't heard about them. So far, these are the ones I know about.

View Da Bear(s) in a larger map

Anyone with more bear sightings, let me know and I'll add them to the map and the blog.

You can e-mail me at

Just let me know as specifically as possible where the bear was. If you can get a picture, even better but DO NOT PUT YOURSELF IN DANGER TO DO IT.

- Bear sighted on Labor Day on Worth Road in Wilton. I added it to the map, but you might have to scroll up to find it. A woman reported that a black bear broke her bird feeder and ate the bird seed. 
- Mother and baby cub sighted behind Stiles Tavern in Wilton on Parkhurst Road.
- Here is a photo of a bear that hung out in someone's back yard in Greenfield Center on September 1.

Sad update: Got this comment below:
Late last night (September 16th) a black bear sow and her cub were hit and killed near the intersection of Middleline and Northline Road. My daughter nearly struck the dead cub in the road late last night on her way home. I didn't think she had seen a dead cub so I went to the accident location this morning to verify her story. I was told that the sow was hit first and the cub was struck by a different vehicle later. I was also told by a relative of the person that hit the small cub that there were actually three cubs who ran across the road. Unfortunately, one of them did not make it across the road in time and was struck and killed. I'm not sure what happened to the bears (both dead ones and the other two cubs) since I had to go to work. The dead cub appeared to be about 7 months old.
 2:51 p.m. Tuesday: Got more corroboration.
 Jeff Varecka e-mailed me to say:
On Northline road yesterday morning 9/17 on my way to work around 7am, I saw a Sheriff's cruiser and two other cars pulled over to the side of the road. In the ditch was what I was almost positive was a bear. I only saw the one animal, I was looking for news updates on this all day and saw nothing. I was sure it wasn't a dog that had been hit but wasn't sure if the bear had been tranquilized or killed.
Here is the story by Paul Post about the bears killed in two accidents. Of course, that is one of the issues at the convergence of wildlife and residential areas.

Here's another addition to the bear sightings:

-Saturday Sept 1st a black bear showed up in my backyard on Locust Grove Rd in Greenfield around 8:30pm.  He pulled down the first of two bird-feeders, and my niece and I couldn't scare him away with clanging pots or whistling or shouting.  My niece's car alarm scared him up the tree in the middle of my yard but he wouldn't leave.  The DEC just said not to approach it and that if it tried to break into the house to call the sheriff because they could arrive before the DEC could.  Also to take in the bird-feeders until time for the bears to hibernate.  I don't know exactly when the bear left but it was some time after midnight, and he did leave a little bit of seed in the second feeder. 

Keep the bear sightings coming. I'm planning on keeping this post updated and will keep adding bear sightings to the map and the blog. We're up to seven sightings now.

And I will leave you with this, which is all I can think when these bear sightings happen.

Friday, September 14

Hostile witness

Perhaps the most interesting part of an uninteresting hearing Thursday afternoon on the potential termination of Mary Zlotnick (it was horribly boring and horribly long), was the first 20 minutes or so, when blogger John Tighe revealed that he had been subpoenaed by the city for the hearing.

Of course he had a few things to say on his blog, Saratoga In Decline, about this. (Be warned, if you had delicate sensibilities, this is not a blog for you)

The issue came to a head when Tighe brought in his attorney, Andrew McNamara, who argued that the subpeona was invalid because it was only handed to him at 9:30 a.m. for the 10 a.m. hearing.

"The notice required makes this clearly invalid," McNamara said.

What made the issue more salient, too, was that he had to be sequestered as a witness, so he was asked to step out into the hallway during the hearing.

Both McNemara and Tighe argued that the subpeona was intended to "suppress the dissemination of information," since he would have undoubtedly blogged about it.

Hearing Officer Christopher Nicolino said "I assume the attorneys in this proceeding will act in good faith" and not practice in "underhanded tactics" and again asked him to step out of the room.

"So you expect me to wait in the hallway for the entire day?" Tighe asked.

Nicolino said he's never known a witness to like it, so "you're not alone." 

When I asked Mark McCarthy of Harris Beach representing the city about whether it was to keep Tighe from writing, he literally laughed heartily. He said he would have to subpoena all of us (Me, Dennis Yusko, Lee Coleman and Dale Willman of Saratoga Wire, who was also there) to keep the information from getting out. Still, when info comes out from us, it doesn't have quite the same... flavor... as when it comes from Tighe.

McCarthy said it was because he was going to use some of Tighe's blog as evidence of information disseminated by Zlotnick (one of the charges is she went to the media and made allegations of wrongdoing) and he wanted to make sure he could confirm the authenticity of the blog through Tighe.

As a hostile witness, too, Tighe was paid for his time.

"I guess they think my time is worth $25," Tighe said. That wouldn't have added up to much per hour if he had actually waited around. As it happens, he was told he could come back after 1 p.m., but didn't.

"I guess he didn't think much of the subpeona," McCarthy said in hour seven of the hearing at just after 5 p.m. when Tighe was still nowhere to be seen.

Of course, since he wouldn't have been called anyway and if he had come back at 1 p.m. he would have been paid roughly $5 an hour, I guess they didn't think much of his time. 

Thursday, September 13

43rd State Senate District Live Blog

12:44 p.m.
Ok folks, I'm signing off for the night. Thanks for stopping by to check out the live blog.

Before I leave you, here's an interesting AP story looking at how the 3 New York State Senators who crossed party lines to vote for gay marriage fared in their primaries today.
We'll have lots of follow-up on the McDonald-Marchione race tomorrow including, answers to these questions:
  • How many absentee ballots are actually out there and when will they be answered?
  • How did the votes break down town-by-town in Saratoga County?
  • Which politicians showed up in support of McDonald and Marchione and how is that split within the party going to affect Saratoga County politics going forward?
  • Who the heck won this thing?

11:57 p.m.
Some photos from tonight... Marchione camp pics by Caitlin Morris, McDonald camp pics by Ed Burke:

11:26 p.m.
 At the Marchione camp, supporter Chris Callaghan said McDonald's advertisements, which he called "beyond the pale" pushed him over Marchione. Regina Parker called McDonald's campaign a "travesty of injustice
Not sure what number they're looking at, but the AP has Marchione ahead district-wide 51% to 49% with 99% of districts reporting (don't know where they got Columbia County numbers, we only see 30% reporting here).
According to the AP, Marchione leads McDonald 6,817 to 6,679.

11:15 p.m.
Sorry for disappearing there, deadline is looming and I just had to finish writing the print version. Tomorrow's headline: TOO CLOSE TO CALL

Fewer than 100 votes tallied in Columbia County; McDonald narrowly took Saratoga County; Marchione narrowly took Rennselaer County (absentee ballots could be a factor in both those counties); no results yet from Wahington County.

10:47 p.m.
Also from Lucian: McDonald says Nov. 6 general election is "still the goal" and would not answer whether he would continue on under just the Independence line. "I'm focused on the Republican line"

10:46 p.m.
Roy McDonald just entered the election results room at the Holiday Inn to big applause. Says "Wow, is this close or what?" and "Stay tuned, we're in extra innings."

10:44 p.m.
Rensselaer County results almost completely in, 56 of 57 districts reporting, and Marchione leads McDonald narrowly: 2,242 to 2,036 votes.

10:40 p.m.
Columbia County continuing to ratchet up my blood pressure by not filing ANY results online. Betsy just spoke to someone at their Board of Elections who said they're counting by hand and hoping to have results soon. GAHHH!

10:39 p.m.
These races are looking very tight, like absentee-ballots-actually-matter tight. According to McDonald's camp there have either been 1,100 absentees returned or mailed out in the district, they're a bit confused on that point. 

10:37 p.m.
In Saratoga County, Marchione is also wining the Conservative primary pretty handily. She leads Edward Gilbert 123 to 20 (99% reporting). If this trend continues across the other counties Marchione will be assured at least one line in the November general election.

10:35 p.m.
Results very slow in Rensselaer County, just 8 of 57 districts reporting and Marchione leads McDonald 290 to 223.
She also leads Gilbert in the Conservative primary in RensCo, 56 to 27.
10:34 p.m.
99% reporting: McDonald leads Marchione in Saratoga County 3,435 to 3,278. We're looking into how many absentee ballots are out there...

10:18 p.m.
The McDonald camp is getting nervous, too.
According to Lucian, a McDonald supporter just cringed while looking at the results and said "ooh, it's getting close." The McDonald camp is reporting district-wide results (50% reporting) as  5,412 to 5,177 in McD's favor

10:13 p.m.
At Marchione's camp, former Saratoga County Treasurer Chris Callaghan on numbers thus far: "The numbers are not as good as we would like to see. We've got to come back from this." Callaghan, interestingly, is one of the names being tossed around as possible successors to Saratoga County GOP Chairman Jasper Nolan. Nolan is set to retire at the end of the year and has been a longtime and outspoken supporter of Roy McDonald. (The other possible heir to Nolan's throne: Saratoga Springs GOP chair John Herrick)

10:05 p.m.
with 90% of machines reporting, Marchione is closing the gap in Saratoga County. McDonald still leads, though, 3,162 to 2,997.

9:50 p.m.
Finally! We have some more results. With only 3 of 57 Rensselaer County districts  reporting, Marchione leads McDonald by ONE vote... See, every vote really does matter.

9:47 p.m.
Saratoga County results coming in steadily, McDonald leads Marchione 2,193 to 1,893 w/ 59% reporting. No results from Columbia, Rensselaer or Washington counties yet. Wah!
Assistant Managing Editor Betsy DeMars is refreshing their websites somewhat obsessively.

9:37 p.m.
Crowd is slowly growing at the McDonald camp. Can you spot some Saratoga County notables in this one?

9:35 p.m.
At the Marchione camp, supporters like what they see in results
Results are still very early and, honestly, what we see online varies wildly from what each campaign is self-reporting... time will tell on this one.

9:27 p.m.
With 27% of machines reporting, McDonald leads Marchione in Saratoga County 1,081 to 885. Still awaiting results from Columbia, Rensselaer and Washington counties. Tick, tock, tick, tock...

9:23 p.m.
This, from Caitlin at Marchione's campaign HQ: "Roy hasn't been a gentleman or a good opponent. As a seasoned retired public official I think he should feel embarrased about the way he's conducted his campaign" — Regina Parker, Halfmoon GOP committee chairwoman

9:21 p.m.
Data is being collated at the Holiday Inn, McDonald's HQ

9:18 p.m.
With 10% of machines reporting, McDonald is leading Marchione in Saratoga County 446 to 324

9:15 p.m.
Numbers are being crunched by the Marchione camp... results starting to trickle in.

and the polls are closed! Commence frantic refreshing of Boards of Elections results websites...

8:52 p.m.
Only a few minutes until polls close tonight. Hopefully we'll have results not long after that.
Tonight's McDonald-Marchione GOP primary is not just closely watched locally. It's on the national radar, too, because of the implications it could have for Republicans supporting gay marriage (in case you've recently woken from a coma: Roy McDonald famously crossed party lines last year and cast a crucial vote in favor of same-sex marriage, all but clinching its legalization in New York)
The New York Times wrote about the primary earlier this week and quoted former Pataki press secretary Robert Bellafiore describing the implications this way:

“The more that the advocates for this are able to tell Republicans that you can do this and live, then the greater success they’re going to have ... But it’s hard to convince somebody to take their first bungee jump if all they see at the bottom of the jump is a bunch of splattered bodies.”

It's primary day...

...are you ready?

We've got pizza ordered, caffeine coursing through our veins and iPhones charged up, so stick with us for coverage of the Roy McDonald — Kathy Marchione Republican primary tonight. (Also the Machione — Edward Gilbert Conservative primary).

Reporters Lucian McCarty (@SaratogianCDesk) and Caitlin Morris (@CMSaratogian) will be with the McDonald and Marchione camps, respectively, tonight. I'll be aggregating the best of their coverage on this blog, so check back often.

— Emily Donohue

Wednesday, September 12

The Fightin' 43rd

If you wanted to hear about where the candidates stand on issues facing the Empire State, last night's debate was probably a bit of a disappointment.

Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione (who recently announced her potential retirement) and incumbent Sen. Roy McDonald squared off in a debate hosted by the Troy Record and The Saratogian at Sage College Tuesday night only two days before the primary that will decide which of them will be on the ballot under the label "Republican."

While we (I was one of the panelists) asked questions about topics ranging from NYRA to economic development and healthcare issues, we heard a lot of answers about double-dipping, betraying voters, dogma and, of course, taking the job and shoving it.

I'm not going back through all of the accusations. I think we heard enough of them last night. 

It didn't take long before the two candidates, who are embroiled in a pretty nasty race for the Republican nomination, to launch strikes at one another (as I recall, it was in opening statements).

To me it is somewhat surprising how negative the campaign has gotten, because they are supposed to be on the same team (Republican), but as Marchione said last night: "This is politics sometimes."

Marchione had more supporters in the crowd, with some people suggesting her campaign organized the group to come out.

Things got vocal during the debate -- even from the crowd. Both candidates at different times responded to hecklers, which seemed like a bad idea.

When asked about how negative the campaign had gotten and why, both candidates said it was all a distraction from the real issues and blamed one another.

Both also say they have no regrets from their campaigns.

"I have done nothing in this campaign that I would change, not one thing," she said, while he said "My campaigns have always been positive. They've driven me to the breaking point. Enough already! I'm not going to take it anymore."

McDonald, also, said "social issues" are a distraction from the real issue, which he said is the economy. That was likely a reference to same-sex marriage which in many ways led to the race in the first place.

Marchione, on the other hand, said she thinks social issues are important and accused McDonald of betraying voters with his vote. In a relatively new twist on that, she honed her attack by saying that he made a "quick change of conscience" over  same-sex marriage and pointed out his coffers that were filled by some same-sex marriage "activists" after the vote, which she said seems "very suspicious to some people."

McDonald said "I did it because I bought it was right." He added that "I could have found easier ways to get elected," which, to be fair, seems accurate. 

The debate garnered coverage from news outlets not only in the region, but further out. The New York Times covered the debate, using it as a launching point to discuss the bigger picture of Republicans who supported the same-sex marriage vote. That reporter, Thomas Kaplan, said the primary vote is being watched closely by more than just New Yorkers. Since it was the first same-sex marriage vote passed under a Republican-controlled legislature, other Republicans are watching what happens to those Republicans who supported it.
“The more that the advocates for this are able to tell Republicans that you can do this and live, then the greater success they’re going to have,” said Robert J. Bellafiore, a communications consultant and former press secretary for Gov. George E. Pataki, a Republican. “But it’s hard to convince somebody to take their first bungee jump if all they see at the bottom of the jump is a bunch of splattered bodies.”
                     — From "Gay Marriage Vote Rises as Test in Upstate G.O.P. Race"