Amedore won’t seek re-election

Enterprise file photo

Republican George Amedore has announced he will not run in 2020 to continue representing the 46th State Senate District.

“I never intended to be a career politician,” Republican Senator George Amedore told The Enterprise this week after announcing on Friday that he won’t run for re-election in 2020.

Amedore, who is 50, served in the State Assembly for six years, until 2012, and has represented District 46 in the State Senate since 2014.

Amedore said he had the perspective of “our Founding Fathers who saw holding office as a public service … a selfless act to help the community.” He went on, “I’ve held that close to my heart … I never looked at this as political.”

His first run for the senate, in 2012, was closely watched statewide, however, as the political majority hung in the balance. Amedore lost that race by the slimmest of margins to Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk, a sheep farmer from Duanesburg who now runs a yarn shop in Guilderland. He beat Tkacyzyk in a heavily-funded rematch and has held the seat since.

This summer, when Democrats Michelle Hinchey and Jeff Collins announced their runs for the 46th District, assuming their rival would be Amedore, his office would say only that no formal announcements had been made.

“It took me a few months to give it careful consideration, to reflect on it,” Amedore said this week. “I was focusing then on the legislative session; that’s not the time for campaigning.”

While he said he was confident he could win re-election, Amedore said his family and business have sacrificed for his public service. “Sometimes life has its way of reminding you of responsibilities. Family must come first,” he said.

Asked if any particular issues had arisen with his family, Amedore said that he had been married for 29 years and that his wife and their three adult children are all doing well. “But family entails more,” he said, naming extended family members as well.

“A lot of sacrifice goes into serving,” he said. “I’m not 100-percent involved in my business because of lack of time, because of all the demands.”

Amedore is president of Amedore Group Inc., a home-construction company. Asked if the business were suffering, he said, “I’m very blessed to have my brothers as partners with me in the business. Things are going well.”

Asked what he was proudest of in his years of public service, he said, “I’m proud of every moment I’ve been there.” He said he had helped individual constituents to “live their lives fully.” He cited an example of a business owner who had an issue so that he couldn’t get to market, and Amedore helped him.



“I was in a diner this morning with a friend, having a cup of coffee,” Amedore said. A couple, seated on the other side of the diner, came over to his table.

“They said, ‘Senator Amedore, you probably don’t remember who we are. We attended your naloxone training … Our family was struggling with members bound by addiction … You educated us and you gave us one of those kits ... It made a difference,’” he related.

Amedore co-chaired of the Senate’s Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction. At a 2017 forum held by the county sheriff in Voorheesville’s high school, Amedore went over a “three-pronged approach” to dealing with the opioid crisis: prevention, education, and treatment.

“We need to ramp up the enforcement effort,” said Amedore, noting that Laree’s Law had passed three times in then-Republican-controlled Senate but was “hung up” in the Democratic-controlled Assembly. Named for Laree Farrell, of Colonie, who was 18 when she died of a heroin overdose in 2013, the bill would have increased penalties for drug dealers when a sale leads to a fatal overdose.

Amedore advocated going after “the big-business drug dealers.” He urged, “Stop the flow but also offer the hand of compassion and encouragement to those bound by addiction.” He concluded to the Voorheesville crowd, “We have to remove this stigma … We can cure this disease.”

This week, Amedore said, “I’m proud of the work with public policy for more funding for those who suffer from substance abuse. … I worked shoulder to shoulder with those who need a second chance.”

He also said, “We moved the dial on state policy, and funding.”


Business advocate

Amedore also said he was proud of legislation he supported so that small-business owners could pay less for workers’ compensation.

“We saw a reduction of 10- to 12-percent in premiums without benefits being diminished, “ he said. “That’s a big victory for New York and business and employees.”

Amedore was also an outspoken opponent of a ban to be implemented on outside pay for state legislators, which in June was struck down in state Supreme Court, the lowest level of New York’s three-tiered system.”


“Fair share”

“I spent a lot of time fighting for our fair share in the 46th Senate District,” said Amedore. “One geographic region — New York City — controls the budget process. It takes a lot of effort and hard work to get a district like ours to get the funding.”

He mentioned getting funds for a sign in front of the Knox firehouse, getting a salt shed for Berne, securing funds to help prevent flooding in front of Stuyvesant Plaza in Guilderland, getting money to help save the historic Hilton Barn in New Scotland, securing funds for road work in the Hilltowns, and finding funds to improve access at the Altamont Fair for people with disabilities.

“It’s making sure we have a healthy, viable community,” said Amedore. “I will continue to remain active and work hard through 2020.”

Asked if he’d seek public office again, Amedore said, “You never know. I don’t have a crystal ball. I love holding office and I know the difference we made.”


Battleground district

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.

Amedore’s 2012 campaign raised close to a million dollars as his Republican opponent Cecilia Tkaczyk’s campaign raised less than a quarter of a million. After a series of court challenges, during which Amedore took the oath of office, Tkaczyk was declared the winner, by just 18 votes.

But the expected Democratic majority in the Senate didn’t materialize. Four Democratic senators broke away from the leadership, forming the Independent Democratic Caucus.

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.

In 2018, Amedore beat his Democratic opponent, Pat Courtney Strong, a newcomer to politics, with 55 percent of the vote as a blue wave gave Democrats solid control of the State Senate.

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-gun, pro-business Republican, standing against the Democratic governor’s liberal initiatives.

Amedore opposed the New York Health Act, which had been passed by the Assembly but not the Senate. He termed single-payer health care “a socialist type system” and said the state can’t support it.

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

Amedore said this week, he was unperturbed by the Senate’s switch to being dominated by Democrats. He noted that, as a Republican, he had served in the Democrat-dominated Assembly. “In a majority or minority, I’ve been able to work in a bipartisan way,” he said. “That’s the strength of working in the private sector … In the private sector you look at the objective, you lay out goals, and you accomplish them,” he said.

“Right now, New York is not heading in a good direction with budget deficits and one-party rule in Albany,” Amedore said. “We need to bring back a balance of power and healthy debate.”


What’s next?

Amedore said he would be involved in the process of determining the next Republican candidate to run to represent District 46. 

“We have a strong list of individuals,” he said. “There’s a process everyone needs to go through, working with five county chairmen. We’ll be having conversations.”

Asked how long the list was, Amedore said, “Every day that goes by since the news is out, I continue to get calls.” He went on about the potential candidates, “They’ve really got to want it in their heart. They’ve got to be willing to roll up their sleeves.”

It is unclear, too, who the Democratic candidate will be.

Michelle Hinchey of Saugerties and Jeff Collins of Woodstock are both running.

“As a young woman,” said Hinchey, who was 31 in July when she talked to The Enterprise, “I believe women’s rights are completely important … He voted against the reproductive health act and against equal pay,” she said of Amedore.

Hinchey, daughter of the late Maurice Dunlea Hinchey, who served in Congress for two decades, told The Enterprise, “I grew up seeing firsthand what hard work, dedication, and compassion can do to make meaningful impact in people’s lives … It’s important for me to give back to the community.”

If elected, Hinchey said, one of her top priorities will be to improve public schools. She has worked in technology and media, and is also interested in environmental issues and coverage for long-term health care.

Hinchey said in a statement this week, reacting to Amedore’s announcement, “While Senator Amedore and I have differences on the issues, I thank him for his service and wish him well in his future endeavors. I’m excited to continue meeting and working with families across the 46th to find ways that we can improve the lives of those in our community.”

Collins, a computer scientist in his fifties who sold his Atlanta company in 1996, told The Enterprise this summer, “We used the money we made to start a not-for-profit school, the Hudson Valley Sudbury School.”

The school, Collins said, is what inspired him to run. “It’s based on participatory democracy. All the students are part of the school’s governance,” he said. “They decide on the rules, the policies, the procedures.”

Collins went on, “We feel democracy is the core of our country … The school holds kids responsible for their actions and for what their educational goals are.

“I’m running because of what I learned at the school … When people know their voice matters, they start participating. What I’ve seen at the state and national level, particularly with young people, they feel their voice doesn’t matter. I want to really engage my constituents on what’s important to them.”

Collins responded to Amedore’s announcement with this statement: “We are heading towards single payer health insurance. We are heading towards equal rights for all, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation. We are heading towards a renewal of upstate, through building the 21st Century Rural Economy based on investing in upstate infrastructure, expanded access to trade and technical education, and through the growth of local, renewable energy systems. It is time for new thinking and new leadership and embracing the changes that will move us all forward.”

Amedore had these closing words of advice for his constituents, “I want to encourage everyone to be involved in some form of civic duty — be a firefighter, help at a library or city mission or soup kitchen or food pantry.

“Helping our neighbors is something we all need to do.”

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