Two candidates vying for the Democratic spot in the race for New York’s sprawling 49th Senate District are kicking their campaigns into gear.
New York’s 49th Senate District, stretching from Schenectady and Saratoga Counties up through Fulton, Herkimer, and Hamilton, has long been held by Republican Hugh Farley. Come November, two Democratic candidates are hoping to take his place.
Candidate Madelyn Thorne ran against Farley in 2012. Two years on, Thorne said she’s continued to travel the region, and believes her support in the Republican controlled district is growing.
“From 2012 to this very day, I have been out visiting communities, talking to people, I’ve gone to Senate hearings, I’ve gone to neighborhood group associations throughout the district,” said Thorne. “And people know that I truly want to make an effective change for the 49th. Senator Farley has been there for a very long time, but I don’t belive he’s doing the job that he should be doing for us.”
Thorne said she has already received the endorsement from the Schenectady and Saratoga County Democratic committees, and will continue to seek endorsements from Fulton, Herkimer, and Hamilton counties as well.
Thorne is being challenged by former Ballston town supervisor Patti Southworth. Originally elected to the position as a Democrat, she was twice reelected as an Independence Party candidate to the predominately Republican Saratoga County Board of Supervisors.
Southworth said she will not seek endorsements from the Democratic Party, but instead will appeal directly to voters.
“I think it allows me to be the candidate that I want to be, it allows me to establish my own positions, have my own independent voice, and make decisions based on what I know is best for the district,” said Southworth.
Southworth added that her experience working with members of different parties at the county level sets her apart.
“I think the fact that the fact that I don’t represent party establishment, that I make my own decisions, and I base that on facts that I develop on those experienced in given fields, as well as the public, really makes me different than what’s out there currently,” said Southworth.
Currently, the State Senate is controlled by a majority of Republicans and a group of breakaway Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference, which just added a new member, Queens Senator Tony Avella. Thorne said that “Democrats need to be Democrats.” Thorne said she thinks Democrats will return to a more progressive stance in the future.
“The IDC, I think they’re recognizing that there’s a change coming in New York State, that New York State, even in these rural areas, is going more progressive, let’s say,” said Throne. “And I’m noticing that they’re beginning to come back to the Democratic message. They’re noticing that they’re backing the wrong horse.”
Southworth contends that her record of serving the interests of her constituents is an example of what’s needed in Albany.
“I think the way I look different is that I actually have represented the people and been their voice in the town Ballston and in Saratoga County,” said Southworth. “I think people have gotten to know my leadership, and it’s proven leadership – it’s leadership that’s been there for the people. I’ve been available 24 hours a day for anyone that has needed me, and I intend to continue that as Senator.”
Republican Incumbent Hugh Farley said he’s looking forward to debating whichever candidate is chosen in the Democratic primary, and said that 2014 will prove to be a good year for Republicans in New York and nationally.
“I think what is happening at the national level with Obamacare, and what is happening particularly with some of the proposals of the governor – the SAFE Act, and so many things – free tuition for convicts and so forth – have really changed the whole perspective particularly upstate,” said Farley. “And I see a tremendous interest in putting Republicans in office.”
Farley said he intends to continue his job as Senator, a job that he loves, in what would be the octogenarian’s 15th term.