Despite Democratic enrollment and financing, District 46 election led by Amedure

Richard Amedure

The Enterprise — Marcello Iaia

Richard Amedure of Rensselaerville, left, has breakfast with Assemblyman Christopher Tague on Election Day at the Silver Spoon Diner in Ravena. 

ALBANY COUNTY — Although mail-in and drop-off ballots still have to be tallied, Richard Amedure of Rensselaerville appears to have kept the 46th state Senate District in the Republican Party column. 

With over 130,000 early and in-person ballots counted on Tuesday, Amedure maintains a 6.26-point lead over Democrat Michelle Hinchey, 51.19 percent to 44.93 percent, or 66,784 votes to 58,613, according to unofficial election results from the state’s board of elections

Robert Alft, the Green Party candidate and a Voorheesville resident, received 0.77 percent of ballots cast, 1,010 votes. There were also 76 write-ins, 0.06 percent of the vote. Gary Greenberg mounted a write-in campaign after his petition to run in the June 23 Democratic primary was thrown out in a court challenge because of faulty signatures.

The 140-mile-long 46th District encompasses all of Greene and Montgomery counties, and parts of Albany, Schenectady, and Ulster counties. In Albany County, the district includes all or parts of Guilderland, New Scotland, Coeymans, and the Hilltowns of Berne, Knox, Rensselaerville, and Westerlo.

Since the district was created eight years ago, its enrollment has swung Democratic and Hinchey’s campaign outspent Amedure’s by nearly five times.

Asked what he attributed his six-point lead to, Amedure said, “We did the work,” noting that his campaign knocked on doors, made phone calls, and sent emails. He said he knocked on doors in neighborhoods in every part of the district, and voters responded.

“The people are upset, and we know that,” he said, pointing to bail-and-discovery reforms as well as the high cost of living and exorbitant taxes and the lack of opportunity for younger residents as examples of voter antipathy. And they are upset with one-party rule from New York City, he said.

Hinchey, who worked in communications for a decade, did not respond to a request for an interview. 

Her campaign put out a statement that said: “There is no better birthday present today than the support of the people of the 46th District — thank you. We began this race over a year ago to make sure that Upstate New Yorkers have a voice in Albany, and we will make sure each one of their votes are counted. We are strongly encouraged by our competitive standing tonight, the historic number of absentee ballots and the connection that we made with voters of all political stripes. We look forward to the next steps.”

Alft said he felt good about what he was able to achieve. His goal all along was to get the Green Party’s message out about climate change and single-payer health care, which tends to get pushed to the side by the two major parties in election years.

And he wanted to defend the party’s ballot line but was disappointed with his party’s choice for president, Howie Hawkins, who he said needed somewhere closer to 200,000 votes in order for the Green Party to preserve its ballot line; Hawkins received 23,258 votes. “It just means we gotta roll up our sleeves and work even harder, and we will do that,” he said, because the party is on the right side of the issues.

 

“Just politics”

The election did get negative toward the end, with Amedure running TV ads against Hinchey. Whereas Amedure put his name on the commercials attacking Hinchey, a number of the mailers attacking Amedure that were sent to voters were from super PACs supporting Democratic candidates. 

One mailer says that a “woman’s right to choose is at risk.” Roe versus Wade was codified into state law in 2019.

Amedure said that he is pro-life. 

The campaign is over, he said; it was just politics, and speaking to the fliers, Amedure, a retired State Trooper, added, “There is case law that says a police officer must have thicker skin than the average person.” 

Given that he will still be part of the minority conference, Amedure was asked where he will have common ground with the Democrats and where they can work together. He said that “it’s obvious” upstate voters are upset with the way things are right now. And, if the Democratic Party hasn’t noticed it after Tuesday night’s results, he said, “They really aren’t paying attention.”

If the Democratic Party tries to double down on its “one-party, one-area” way of legislating and makes laws that are good only for New York City, he said, then in two years, the party will be looking at a “resounding defeat.”

Amedure pointed to Tuesday’s election results, where the GOP did better in the state Senate than expected — the party appears to have picked up at least two seats since the 2018 election: Republicans look to have won 25 statewide Senate seats this year; they won 23 two years ago.

Amedure said the upstate and Long Island GOP message is resonating: “We can’t govern for one part of the state. You have to be fair, you have to make rules that don’t destroy the infrastructure up here — you can’t fix your infrastructure at our expense,” he said.

 

By the numbers

Local elections boards have until Nov. 10 to receive absentee ballots as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3, Election Day. 

Albany County received 38,161 requests for ballots this election and, as of Tuesday afternoon, 28,557 had been returned, Matthew Clyne, the county’s Democratic election commissioner, previously told The Enterprise. 

Ulster County Board of Elections Democratic Deputy Commissioner Jen Fuentes told The Enterprise that the board had received 13,654 applications and mailed out as many ballots, and had received 10,158 back as of Wednesday. 

Fuentes also pointed out that not every person in Ulster County who requested a ballot lives in the 46th Senate District, a breakdown she did not have. 

This was also the case in Albany County. 

However, in Schenectady County, Darlene Harris, the county’s Republican election commissioner, did have the specific number of ballot requests from voters in the 46th district: 3,924 were requested and 3,354 were returned.

Greene County issued 4,713 ballots and had received back 3,945 as Wednesday, according to the county’s deputy Republican election commissioner, Elisa Jarvis.

The Montgomery Board of Elections issued 3,943 absentee ballots of which 3,286 had been returned. 

Both Clyne and Fuentes made the point that some voters may have voted absentee and then voted in-person, which would cancel out the absentee vote. So, coupled with the fact that not all Albany and Ulster county voters reside in the 46th District — Amedure won Greene and Montgomery counties in runaways — there might not be as many outstanding votes out there for Hinchey.

There are 202,022 active registered voters in the 46th State Senate District, which puts voter turnout in the district this election at about 64.6 percent.

On Wednesday, Amedure was asked if he thought he would still be in the lead once all the votes are counted, and he said, “We want to make sure every vote is counted, it’s going to be a long process, we knew this early on. We weren’t expecting results for a couple days anyway, but the numbers look solid and we’re hoping they hold,” and by early next week he should have a definitive answer. 

Amedure didn’t just win the district, he won everywhere: He won four of the five counties that make up the 46th Senate District. The only county where Hinchey won definitively was her home county — Ulster.

As of this month, according to the New York State Board of Elections, there were 202,022 active enrolled voters in the 46th District: 73,556 Democrats — an increase of over 11,000 since the district was created; 54,901 Republicans — barely 700 more GOP members than 2012; 54,683 active enrolled voters without a party affiliation; 680 Green Party enrollees; and a smattering of enrollments in one of the state’s other third parties. 

The parts of Albany County that are in the 46th district have 44,518 active registered voters — 30,352 ballots were cast on Tuesday.

In parts of Albany County — where the district includes all or parts of Guilderland, New Scotland, Coeymans, and the Hilltowns of Berne, Knox, Rensselaerville, and Westerlo — Amedure received 15,190 votes, 50.05 percent of ballots cast. Hinchey received 14,173 votes, 46.70 percent of the vote, and 238 Albany County residents cast ballots for Alft, 0.78 percent of voters.

Within the 46th District, there are 17,933 active Democratic voters in Albany County and 10,252 Republican.

All of Greene County is located within the 46th Senate District and has 32,372 active registered voters of which 20,978 voted Tuesday. 

In Greene County, Amedure received 62.48 percent of the vote, 13,108 of ballots cast; Hinchey received 34.04 percent, 7,141 votes; and Alft got 2.67 percent of the vote, 560 votes. 

Greene County active Republican voters outnumber Democrats 12,262 to 8,830 in the senate district. 

All of Montgomery County, with its 28,911 active registered voters of which 17,668 cast ballots on Tuesday, is within the senate district.

In Montgomery County, 63.73 percent of cast ballots were for Amedure, 11,260 votes; 31.12 percent did the same for Hinchey, 5,499 votes; and 0.72  percent of residents pulled the lever for Alft, 127 votes.

In Montgomery County, which is entirely in the 46th Senate District, there are fewer active Democratic voters, 9,159, than there are Republian, 10,211.

The part of Schenectady County in the 46th Senate District has 28,721 active registered voters of which 19,378 votes were counted on Tuesday

In Schenectady County, Amedure received 58.21 percent, 11,279 votes; Hinchey received 36.20 percent of ballots cast, 7,014 votes; and Alft took home 0.74  percent, 144 votes. 

Democratic voters outnumber Republicans in Schenectady County, 9,351 to 8,181 in the senate district.

In Ulster County, the parts of the county located within the 46th Senate District have 67,500 active registered voters of which 42,079 votes were counted on Tuesday.

In the parts of Ulster County in the senate district, Hinchey’s home county, she received 24,786 votes, 58.90 percent; Amedure received 15,947 votes, 37.90  percent; and Alft received 362 votes, 0.86  percent. 

Ulster County Democratic voters double the number of Republican voters, 28,283 to 13,995 in the 46th.

 

Trump effect

Amedure appears to have performed better than President Donald Trump in the five counties of the 46th District, with the president taking just two counties, Montgomery and Greene, to Amedure’s four — although the votes counts are for the entire counties and not just the 46th Senate District; the state Board of Elections has yet to breakdown the vote by Senate district.

Trump lost New York State to former Vice President Joseph Biden 3.68 million votes to 2.84 million. 

 

Finances

Alft said Hinchey did an excellent job of getting her message across; his mailbox was filled daily with expensive, glossy mailers. “But it shows, too, that money in politics is not everything,” he said.

“Michelle Hinchey had a very big warchest and it did not pay,” Alft said.

The 46th Senate District has been awash in cash since it was created by a State Senate then dominated by Republicans. In the first race for the newly created district, the senate majority hung in the balance.

Republican George Amedore, a developer, raised close to a million dollars in 2012, while his opponent’s campaign raised less than a quarter of a million. After a series of court challenges, during which Amedore took the oath of office, Cecilia  Tkaczyk, a Duanesburg sheep farmer who had worked as a legislative aid, was declared the winner, by just 18 votes.

In 2014, in a rematch, Amedore won over Tkaczyk with 54 percent of the vote. Amedore raised over $1.5 million to Tkaczyk’s $1.3 million.

Amedore beat his Democratic challenger, Sara Niccoli, a sheep farmer from Montgomery County and supervisor of Palatine, with 63 percent of the vote in 2016. That year, Amedore’s campaign raised $1.2 million to Niccoli’s $278,000.

And in 2018, Amedore, who raised approximately $306,000 worth of individual contributions, beat his Democratic opponent, Pat Courtney Strong, a newcomer to politics who took in about $262,000 in individual contributions, with 55 percent of the vote as a blue wave gave Democrats solid control of the State Senate for the first time in decades.

Amedore declined to seek a fourth term

For all of 2020, Hinchey raised approximately $811,000 in individual contributions. The New York State Senate Democratic Campaign Committee appears to have allocated $162,953 toward Hinchey’s run; in addition, the same committee transferred $250,000 to her campaign, while she transferred $57,336.45 back to the committee. 

New Yorkers Together, a super PAC financed by the Communication Workers of America, spent $131,995 supporting Hinchey — $57,350 on radio ads supporting her, and $60,339 on direct-mail fliers attacking Amedure.

Amedure took in about $173,000 in individual contributions.

While the New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee appears to have allocated or transferred $62,344 to Amedure’s campaign.

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