Incumbent Democratic Cecilia Tkaczyk, a former school board member and owner of a sheep farm, is fighting what’s turning out to be our region’s most expensive state race for the large, oddly-configured 46th state Senate district against Republican George Amedore, a former Assemblyman and owner of a second generation Rotterdam-area homebuilding company, who she defeated by 18 votes in a tense recount two years ago.
When the two first started pushing their campaigns in late summer, Tkaczyk came across as the more confident of the two, moving around her district with ease while simultaneously pushing a complex in-office agenda that she proudly touted in interviews. Amedore, whose brief stint as a Senator went down into the record books as New York’s shortest (he was actually seated before the final vote count swung against him in January 2013), answered his own phones in his Albany-area office at the start and reiterated much of his campaign rhetoric from 2012.
Then he started releasing a slew of vicious campaign ads and rained direct mail pieces on district voters, charging his opponent with using her constituent mailers as a means of campaigning and charging her with voting against student loans for anyone but illegal immigrants. At first, she responded in kind, noting the empty viciousness of the Amedore attacks.
In early October a Siena Poll showed the Republican ahead by ten points. In interviews, Tkaczyk again stressed the good job she was doing, while Amedore kept stressing the slim loss he experienced two years ago. Big money started pouring in, first for the Republican and then from a Soros-backed PAC for the Democrat.
Amedore’s television ads and mailers kept attacking, using dark, police-style graphics. Tkaczyk’s materials became sunnier, showing her at work and stressing her accomplishments over the past 21 months in office.
Debates and editorial board meetings showed the two candidates close on many issues, from a Women’s Equality Act to gun control legislation, albeit with sharp elbows wherever differences occurred. Amedore stressed that he could never vote for the full women’s rights package under discussion in Albany because it included an element that sets the Roe v. Wade decision regarding abortions in state law, something he feels works against the safety of women. Tkaczyk said you can’t break up the rights, and noted that the SAFE Act gun control that was passed can be worked with, and is better not repealed.
She has stressed her “common sense” approach to representation and decision-making in Albany, with a focus on education, agricultural, environmental, and women’s issues. He has repeatedly characterized her as someone intent on infringing “on our rights and our constitutional freedoms,” and repeatedly stressed his own business background.
Last week, Amedore failed to show up for a League of Women Voters Meet the Candidates event in Saugerties. The candidate said he had a previous commitment, and has been busy highlighting endorsements he’s received from other Republicans running for Congress or state senate, as well as from five business groups, including the anti-regulatory Unshackle Upstate.
Tkaczyk pushed her endorsements from a number of key environmental groups, various state unions, New York’s two U.S. Senators, and a growing number of newspapers including the Poughkeepsie Journal, as well as the Albany Times Union’s calling out of various falsities in pro-Amedore advertising. All pointed out her level-headed hard work on education and economic development issues as being worthy of support.
“I look at Ulster County’s high unemployment rate and the people moving out there and I can’t help but think that it’s public policy that’s hindered our economy,” Amedore said when starting off his campaign in September, referencing the one county he lost by the largest numbers in 2012. “It’s getting so we can’t afford being in this state anymore, from gas prices to the surcharge tax here, the surcharge tax there on everything from our phone bills to our car insurance.” These costs add up quickly to make making ends meet very difficult for the working class. You can save money with Utility Saving Expert for example on car, house and life insurance but not everyone is aware and take advantage of these services.
“Déjà vu? Same campaign, same viewpoints,” Tkaczyk said then. “I’m confident people are seeing now what a strong presence means in Albany. I’m here to help everyone. We’re all in this together.”