GOP's Senator Amedore says: 'We finished Strong'

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Republican Senator George Amedore greets supporters Tuesday night, including staffer Eileen Miller, at left, as he arrives at Armondo’s Villa Tuscan Grill in Rotterdam, where he later made a victory speech.

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Democrat Pat Strong meets voters at the Capital City Diner in Guilderland on Election Day. A one-time journalist and current business owner in Kingston, Strong was making her first bid for office. She garnered 42 percent of the vote in the 46th Senate District.

The blue wave that gave Democrats control of the State Senate did not lift all boats.

Republican George Amedore won a third term representing the 46th Senate District. He bested his Democratic opponent, Pat Courtney Strong, a newcomer to politics, with 55 percent of the vote.

Amedore of Rotterdam, president of Amedore Group and vice president of Amedore Homes, had served in the State Assembly for six years before launching his first run for Senate in 2012.

“It really is an honor to serve … I want to thank the Lord for his strength, for his wisdom, for his favor, and for getting us through,” Amedore told the crowd that had gathered at Armondo’s Villa Tuscan Grill in Rotterdam on Election Night.

Waiting for the resounding applause to quiet, he went on, “You know, campaigning is hard … This victory is a team victory … We got to the finish line … The 46th Senate District will have a senator that will continue to serve, listen, put their needs and interests first and hold the line — hold the line against this governor, hold the line on the taxes and spending that he continues to want to create for his own political gain, and we will hold true to our principals … We finished Strong,” he concluded to more applause.

While Strong, who has a background in journalism and runs an energy and environmental company in Kingston, ran on a progressive agenda, Amedore ran on his record as a pro-business Republican, standing against the Democratic governor’s liberal initiatives.

The 46th District, drawn by the Republican-dominated Senate in 2012, has become more Democratic since its inception: Thirty-five percent of voters are enrolled as Democrats, 28 percent as Republicans, 27 percent are unaffiliated, and the rest are enrolled in small parties.

The district stretches 140 miles, encompassing all of Greene and Montgomery counties and parts of Albany, Schenectady, and Ulster counties. (The district includes all or part of these Albany County towns: Guilderland, New Scotland, Coeymans, and the Hilltowns of Berne, Knox, Rensselaerville, and Westerlo.)

The 46th District was blue in 2012, supporting Barack Obama as Amedore narrowly lost, and was red in 2016, supporting Donald Trump, as Amedore won handily.

According to unofficial results from the New York State Board of Elections Tuesday night, Amedore got 52,336 Republican votes, 8,558 Conservative votes, 2,673 Independence Party votes, and 484 Reform votes.

Strong got 44,313 Democratic votes, 3,532 Working Families votes, and 1,279 Women’s Equality votes.

Again, according to unofficial results from the state’s board of elections, 116,338 people voted in the 46th District out of 188,134 active registered voters. Amedore got 55.06 percent of the vote, Strong got 42.23 percent, 2.65 percent of the ballots were blank, .04 percent were void, and .03 percent had write-in votes.

In the Albany County part of the 46th District — in which 27,033 votes were cast out of 41,485 active voters — Strong got 45.05 percent of the vote, and Amedore got 53.19 percent.

Battleground district

In the hotly-contested race between Strong and Amedore, the campaigns together raised over a half-million dollars. Amedore raised $378,290 and Strong raised $212,844, according to figures yesterday from the New York State Board of Elections.

Those figures pale beside earlier Amedore runs. The Senate majority had hung in the balance in 2012 when Amedore’s campaign raised $937,842, and his Republican opponent Cecilia Tkaczyk’s campaign raised $235,290. After a series of court challenges, Tkaczyk, a Duanesburg sheep farmer, was declared the winner, by 18 votes.

Four Democratic senators then broke away from the leadership, forming the Independent Democratic Caucus, meaning the Democrats did not have the majority after all. In Democratic primaries this year, several members of the IDC, who had voted with the Republicans, were ousted.

In 2014, in a rematch, Amedore won over Tkaczyk with 54 percent of the vote. His victory, along with several other key State Senate races going to the Republicans, gave the GOP the majority in the Senate. Amedore raised over $1.5 million to Tkaczyk’s $1.3 million.

The 46th District was critical again in 2016 as Democrats had hoped, but failed, to win the majority of seats. Amedore beat his Democratic challenger, Sara Niccoli, a sheep farmer from Montgomery County and supervisor of Palatine, with 63 percent of the vote. Amedore’s campaign raised $1.2 million to Niccoli’s $278,000.

Divergent views

During this year’s campaign, the candidates made clear their stark differences — Strong with a progressive agenda and Amedore with a pro-business, pro-gun stance meant to counter initiatives pushed by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Strong called Amedore “out of step with the people of the district.”

She gave as an example a bill introduced by Republicans to close the loophole that allowed those convicted of domestic violence to possess a firearm. The bill passed, but Amedore voted against it.

The fact that he was “voting to the right of his own party” was, for Strong, “an indice, an opening to look at the record,” she said, on issues including health care, abortion, and the environment, and she became convinced that the voters should have a choice.

In response to Strong’s criticism of his “nay” vote on the bill that would prevent those convicted of domestic violence from possessing firearms, Amedore said this is already federal law and that the state legislation was “forced through by the governor, with a message of necessity, to use as a political-wedge issue and talking point to advance his national agenda.”

Among other progressive policies, Strong supported the New York Health Act, which was passed by the Assembly but not the Senate. Amedore opposes it. He termed single-payer health care “a socialist type system” and said the state can’t support it. Strong cited a report by the RAND Corporation, which, she said, declared the legislation viable and said that it could be done.

Even if the United States Supreme Court were to reverse its 1973 ruling on Roe v. Wade, Amedore said he would not support the governor’s proposal of codifying Roe v. Wade in state law. Strong said she “absolutely” supports the initiative to codify Roe v. Wade.

“New York was a beacon among states when it passed its statute in 1970,” she said, “and the idea that we have to do this now is regrettable but very necessary. Our statue is out-of-date, particularly with respect to the life of the mother, and we must bring it up to date as soon as possible.”

Amedore opposes legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use because, he said, “Marijuana is a gateway drug.”

Strong favored legalizing recreational marijuana because, she said, “to decriminalize it will take the wind out of the sails of illegal drug dealers, and the tax revenue would be very beneficial to the state.”

Strong favored a package of “common-sense gun legislation” introduced by Democrats including the Red Flag bill, which allow for temporary removal of firearms from someone who is deemed to be under duress due, for example, to a mental-health crisis or a domestic violence situation.

Amedore wants to repeal the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, commonly known as the SAFE Act.

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