State Senate District 46: Amedure and Breslin compete to fill vacuum

Rich Amedure

Neil Breslin

ALBANY COUNTY — In the contest to replace Democratic State Senator Michelle Hinchey in the newly redrawn 46th Senate District, Democratic Senator Neil D. Breslin, who currently represents the 44th Senate District, is facing off against Rich M. Amedure Jr., a Conservative who ran against Hinchey on the Republican and Conservative lines in 2020, losing by a slim margin. 

Amedure is running again on those same two lines while Breslin has the Working Families line as well as the Democratic Party line.

The reconfigured 46th District covers Albany, Bethlehem, Coeymans, Guilderland, New Scotland, and the Helderberg Hilltowns of Berne, Knox, Westerlo, and Rensselaerville.

The Enterprise spoke with the two candidates separately over video, with the interviews recorded and posted online at, to get their stance on the following issues: threats to democracy, the upcoming environmental bond act, abortion, gun control, and assessment standards. 



Breslin has represented the 46th Senate District for 26 years, been head of the Democratic Conference in the Senate, and has also been floor leader. He’s currently the insurance chairman, co-chair of the state Legislative Ethics Commission, pro tempore vice president of the Senate, and member of seven committees, including the banks, finance, rules, and judiciary committees. 

He said he’s running for re-election to the reconfigured District 46 “because I think I can make a difference, and making a difference is making sure that our kids have proper schooling at an early age, that they have sufficient funds to support their family, to have housing, and to have a life that we expect as American citizens.”

Breslin said he’s learned that, with his fellow senators, “each day we can do something incrementally good that helps individuals, or an individual, it’s worthwhile. You could go home and the next day do something better.”

Breslin has taken in $301,760.96 in campaign contributions so far this year from 165 donors, according to the New York State Board of Elections. 

Amedure, meanwhile, has served in local government as chairman of the Rensselaerville planning board for five years in addition to being a regular member. He’s a retired State Trooper and former head of the troopers’ union. He also served in the United States Army. 

In 2020, Amedure sought to replace his cousin, Republican George Amedore, as representative of the 46th Senate District, but was beaten by first-time candidate Michelle Hinchey, a Democrat. Like many races that year, the large number of absentee ballots that had been cast due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the decision in New York State to allow anyone to request an absentee ballot complicated the vote-counting process. 

Amedure appeared to be in the lead when early and in-person votes were counted, but was revealed to be short of Hinchey’s total by less than 3,000 votes when the absentee ballots were counted. Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to vote absentee because of the split between parties over the seriousness of the pandemic, leading to several Republican candidates throughout the country, including then-President Donald Trump, finding themselves in a worse position in the days and sometimes weeks following the election than early numbers indicated. 

Amedure filed a lawsuit the day before Election Day in 2020 that sought to change the way votes were counted, but was unsuccessful, and it was a judge who ultimately declared Hinchey the winner on Nov. 8. 

Amedure is running again this year for the same basic reason he ran in 2020: He doesn’t think that Democrats, who wield majority power in the state, are doing a good job. 

“Everybody tells me, ‘Oh, it’s great that you’re running for Senate. It’s a great thing.’” he said. “It’s not great that I’m running for Senate. It’s horrible that I’m running for Senate. If the people in power were doing a competent job — even if they weren’t in my party I could deal with it if they were doing a competent job. They’re not. They’re terrible.” 

He explained that his son, who’s in the military, and his daughter, a doctor of physical therapy, have “a lot of skills and they don’t need to be [in New York State], and New York is making it harder and harder for them to stay here. I want to get involved to help young people stay here.”

Between July 2020 and 2021, the state lost 1.58 percent of its population, making it the leader in state population loss in the U.S. 

“We have no future if we keep losing people at this rate,”
Amedure said. “We need to change the conditions in Albany to allow people to stay in the state of New York and not feel forced to leave … We need to defend this territory because we are losing our way of life in upstate New York, and it’s basically because New York City one-party rule has destroyed many things going on in our state.”

Amedure has taken in $31,989.20 in contributions this year from 92 donors; his campaign was announced later than most because the redistricting process left him unsure about whether he would run until the summer.



Breslin said that people’s feelings about the state of democracy likely turned sour on Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump supporters swarmed the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. while votes were being certified because of their displeasure with the outcome of the election. 

That “was the starting point of the way people feel, when they saw thousands of people invade the Capitol of the United States with ammunition, with hate in their eyes, and threatening not only the United States Senate, but the House of Representatives and many individuals, Democrat and Republican.”

Breslin said the rioters were fueled by messages “pushed by Donald Trump” along with “grievances against the United States. And it might have been that they didn’t get proper schooling, it might have been they couldn’t find a job, it might have been the criminal justice system didn’t treat them fairly, and on and on.”

Breslin added that suggestions that the election was rigged was a bond for all those different reasons, but that, despite that suggestion, the election was “probably the fairest” as far as his background in federal elections goes. 

“I think that all of us have a feeling that we’re on the precipice,” he said. “Unless we have good people who bring both Democrats and Republicans and independents and others together, we have real jeopardy … When we wrote our early laws, there wasn’t a suggestion that [any provision] might be violated by some future president. So it’s up to all of us to come together and get back to … a proper debate between parties and between different points of view.”

Amedure said that, while he thinks Biden is the legitimate president of the United States and that there’s no solid conclusion that can be made as to whether Democrats have cheated in some way in federal and state elections, he has questions about how elections are conducted, in part because of his own experience in 2020. 

“Obviously, Biden won the election, and obviously Hinchey won the election, because I’m sitting at home and she’s got a senate seat,” he said. “So I’m not saying they didn’t win. In the military, after every action, we do after-action review — AAR. Whenever you have … an action you’re going to repeat, you do an after-action review to see what you can do better. We could have done that last election a lot better. It was a disaster. It was an absolute disaster.” 

He said that he felt “fear of COVID” — the option that any New York voter could check to request an absentee ballot, regardless of whether they had the ability to make it to a polling station, which was the usual measure of qualification — was a good call, but that the overall impact, to his mind, unfairly favored Democratic candidates. 

“I lost by 2,000 votes after being up by 8,000 votes …,” Amedure said. “If it only happened to me, I get it. It happened to eight other Republican senators. We were up from five-to-15,000 on election night. So we just need to do an investigation. I’m not saying there was fraud or anything. I want somebody independent to look at them and get to the bottom of what happened.”

Amedure acknowledged in a follow-up conversation that he is “a little conspiracy-theorist about this,” and that many have assured him that there are no problems, but that, as a former police officer, he “doesn’t believe in coincidences.”

Again, due to the politicization of COVID and messaging by Republicans that absentee voting was unsafe and COVID was not a threat, and messaging by Democrats that absentee voting was safe and COVID was a threat, Democrats were far more likely to vote absentee in 2020 than is typical. Loosened mail-in ballot requirements across the country also increased voter turnout, which tends to benefit Democrats, who have typically been the larger party. 

Amedure said that New York Democrats are taking advantage of the benefits that absentee voting provides them by circumventing voters’ preferences for the stricter absentee requirements. In 2021, voters rejected a proposal that would allow no-excuse absentee voting. 

However, absentee ballots can still be requested for fear of contracting or spreading COVD-19. Voters who have requested an absentee ballot cannot vote on a machine, though they can cast an affidavit ballot in person that will be counted only if the absentee ballot is not received for any reason. 

This year, many voters received pre-filled absentee ballot applications in their mailbox in what Democrats have called an attempt to increase voter participation. The pre-filled applications still require action on the part of the recipient and are not absentee ballots themselves.

Amedure, who said he filed a lawsuit, called that “ridiculous. I don’t know if you’re aware, but absentee ballots are where the questions always come in.”



Breslin said he is “a total supporter and have been from the beginning” of the $4.2 billion environmental bond act. “We’re talking about our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren — they’re being jeopardized already. We have to come together to look at renewables and we’ve seen a project in Albany County for windmills in the ocean that could be constructed here and sent down the Hudson River to Long Island and other places. 

“I’ve fully supported that,” he said, “and, in fact, helped create funds to train people in the city of Albany, many of whom have not had permanent jobs before, to be union members and have a good salary, and work to change the environment to a way it hasn’t been in the past.” 

He said that the move away from non-renewable energies will require “not only funding from the federal government … but it’s going to take all of us together, Democrat or Republican, to make sure that happens.”

Amedure agreed that the environment needs to be taken care of, but said that the state is failing to do so in a sensible way. 

“I’m conservative by nature, and conservative means conserving the land, conserving the trees. I love my trees, but that does mean you need to thin them out and you need to use them. We have a sawmill. We cut the trees that we use, but we don’t just cut for waste.”

Amedure said that he lives next to 3,000 acres of state land and that for “20 years it was a pleasure,” but that “in the last couple years, something has shifted and they went to this new model of clear-cutting and no replanting.” He said that, as a result, half of growing trees die as they compete for nutrients at the same time, which he feels will lead to wildfires. 

“They’re like, ‘Well, we don’t have wildfires in New York.’ Well, we did have wildfires in New York 100 years ago, as evidenced by the fire towers all over the place,” he said. “We have fire towers because there were bad logging practices, and I feel that the state is going back to these bad logging practices … There’s a lot of clear-cuts out here. We have large parcels of trees that were planted in the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s that are coming mature now. There is a way to harvest them safely, correctly, without leaving so much fuel on the floor of the forest.”

Of fossil fuels, he said that there’s a “safe way to extract” them, and that the state shouldn’t transition too aggressively.

“We can’t go right to renewables …,” Amedure said. “The technology is just not there right now. Solar and wind are great technologies. I think that in the future, they’re going to be a big part of our total package, but we need a transition fuel to get there.” 

He argued that “natural gas drilled in America is the cleanest thing” because of all the rules and regulations. 

Amedure also criticized the Canadian Hydro-Quebec pipeline — which provides power from water — for flooding tribal lands. He also disapproves of relying on other countries for energy, such as Canada, because “you can never count on outside resources 100 percent,” he said, offering up the energy crisis in Europe, caused by various countries’ dependence on Russian energy, which has been diminished because of the war on Ukraine. 



Breslin said that he voted for the state’s current abortion laws, which allow abortions up to and including 24 weeks, and past 24 weeks in cases when the carrier’s health is at risk or the pregnancy is no longer viable. Viability begins around 24 weeks, hence the cutoff. 

He said that his argument at the time was, “I wasn’t  a woman, I wasn’t a doctor, and I wasn’t a religious person. I’m still not. We have to give those decisions to the women involved in it, and their families.” 

Breslin said that the states have control “unless and until the federal government speaks, so we have to make sure — which we already have — that we continue to be vigilant, to make sure that every step we take protects those rights unless and until there is some sort of federal demand of the states to comply with a national law.”

Amedure said that nothing can be done about abortion in New York State because of the current laws, and Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin’s declaration that he would not use executive powers to ban abortion if he’s victorious over incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul. 

Amedure said that Republicans were willing to allow “first and second trimester abortions, for the life of the mother and all the other reasons, the regular reasons. They just wouldn’t go as far as third-trimester abortions.” 

Amedure spoke favorably of a 15-week abortion ban, “which would put us on par with most countries in Europe.” 

“I fully want to put money in a situation to support pregnant mothers so they don’t feel the need for an abortion,” he said. “That would make more sense to me, personally … but again, you would have to get a consensus of agreement between parties to get that done.”


Gun policies

Breslin said that gun rights were established 250 years ago and that the assumptions at that time did not account for modern firepower. 

“We don’t need bazookas to go hunting,” he said. “We don’t need multiple firing devices to go hunting. We need to make sure that those people who have availability of guns are properly licensed, and I would be supporting a background check on each and every person who has any kind of firearm. That is not oppressive to anyone.”

He also said he would support a delay period before a permit is issued. 

“I come from a family that has many hunters,” Breslin said, “who are good citizens … and would welcome the exercise of filling out questionnaires relative to their operation and possession of a gun. It would catch a lot.”

He said that gun reform also has to take place at the federal level because the majority of guns used in crimes in New York come from other states. 

Amedure, meanwhile, said that New York’s recent law, currently being challenged in court but under a stay while a decision is reached, is “unenforceable.” 

He said that a person would be committing a crime if they have a gun in their car that they brought hunting and then “stop at Stewart’s, get out of the car, leave the gun in the car like it should be, bullets out,” unless the gun is in accordance with the law.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos wrote in an FAQ that this means, “it must be locked in a fire, impact, and tamper resistant storage container and hidden from view. Any plastic or aluminum, lockable, hard-sided, gun case or safe will suffice for this purpose. If an adult remains with the vehicle to ensure security, a case or safe is not required.”

Amedure also took issue with a flier mailed out by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee that called him an extremist for his gun positions and his “A” rating from the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, which is an affiliate of the National Rifle Association. 

“Mass shootings happened in New York under their bad policies …,” Amedure said. “My thing is to solve problems, not make political headlines. And this is the problem with the people we have in office right now. All they’re doing is making headlines for political gain, and not to actually solve problems. I was a trooper in a small town. I couldn’t just push things off. I had to solve problems every day … The laws they’re passing are creating problems.”



Breslin said he would like the state to have a single assessment standard, “because we want to treat people fairly.”

“We have too many situations where localities have particular rules and regulations that make the taxes of one person much higher or lower than the person down the street …,” he said. “We have to investigate statewide legislation that makes the rules on taxation much fairer.”

He also said that tax laws should be reviewed every 10 years. 

Amedure agreed, saying that, in his 30 years living in Rensselaerville, he doesn’t “remember a full revaluation in this town.” 

“Your house is assessed at $100,000, and then they have a multiplying factor that is supposed to make it up, but again, like you said, that’s not always fair to new houses and old houses and stuff like that. I wouldn’t write the legislation because … we need experts to write these laws.” 

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