Collins backs Hinchey in her run for 46th State Senate District

Michelle Hinchey

Michelle Hinchey

Michelle Hinchey, of Saugerties, announced on Sunday that her rival for the Democratic nomination to represent District 46 in the State Senate, Jeff Collins, has ended his campaign and thrown his support to her.

Another Democrat, child-victim advocate Gary Greenberg of Greene County, told The Enterprise on Monday that he is moving forward with his own campaign. “I’m in the process of filing paperwork with the board of elections so we can raise funds,” he said.

He said Collins’s ending his campaign would have “no effect” on his own campaign nor would the news that Collins is joining forces with Hinchey, serving as a volunteer policy advisor.

“Endorsements don’t count; what counts is the voters,” said Greenberg. “I have a proven record. That’s what I’ll run on. I can get things done.”

Incumbent Republican George Amedore announced on Nov. 29 that he would not seek re-election. He has represented District 46 since 2014.

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.

“Jeff brings a lifetime of experience in business, agriculture and advocacy,” said Hinchey in a statement. “Our region has the opportunity for new representation and ideas to grow our local economy and create jobs, champion women’s issues, strengthen our infrastructure and improve access to affordable healthcare and housing.”

Hinchey’s release referenced a New York Times story about four Republican state senators recently saying they will step down in 2020, giving Democrats hope of winning a supermajority. The Times wrote:

“Of the various districts where Republican senators are not seeking re-election, the best hope for Democrats is the Hudson Valley seat being vacated by George A. Amedore Jr., a businessman who was first elected to the Senate in 2014.

“His district, the 46th, has nearly 20,000 more Democrats than Republicans, and already has a prominent Democratic candidate: Michelle Hinchey, the daughter of a former congressman, Maurice Hinchey.”

 Collins, of Woodstock, had sounded passionate in July when he talked to The Enterprise about his candidacy.

Collins and his wife run a not-for-profit school, the Hudson Valley Sudbury School. The school, Collins said this past summer, 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.”

This week, Collins told The Enterprise, “I spoke with Michelle last week and saw we had no significant difference in our policies on the issues. I saw how passionate and committed she is to the issues and making a difference in the district.”

He concluded, “It didn’t make sense to have two people with the same policy positions run against each other.”

Also, he conceded, “She had more support from the party.”

Hinchey, daughter of the late Maurice Dunlea Hinchey, who served in Congress for two decades, when she announced her run in July, 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.”

The Enterprise this week asked Collins if he thought the name recognition gave Hinchey the edge. “Let me be clear,” said Collins. “The edge wasn’t what made me want to leave. I don’t want it to come across that she has an unfair advantage. I don’t want it to sound like I’m critical of the Democratic Party to choose her over me.

“She does have more connections than I do because of her dad. She has a lot of skill and talent in communication and listening to people. She’ll be a very talented public servant and do a good job. She has innate skills; that’s not my natural mode.”

As a policy advisor for Hinchey, Collins said, he doesn’t yet have specifics on what he’ll be doing but thinks he’ll develop positions for the campaign.

 He listed the many stances he has in common with Hinchey:

— Supporting the New York Health Act, with specific emphasis on long-term elder care;

— Seeking upstate infrastructure changes including broadband for communities that lack it;

— Getting access to health services in rural areas;

— Changing the conversation “to one where we’re not as divided as now, listening, while still doing what we think is right”; and

— Working on economic development, focusing on local communities and ways to help farmers.

“Two people are better than one,” Collins concluded. “She can’t be in two counties the same day,” he said of campaigning. “I can represent her. I feel good about this. Between both of us, we can do a better job.”

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