Ulster County executive Mike Hein, widely assumed to be planning a run next year for the House of Representatives, surprised many in the local political scene on Friday, December 18 by saying thanks but no thanks.
“Although the pundits and politicians will undoubtedly speculate, the simple truth of my decision is this: after serious consideration I have decided not to run for Congress in 2016 because, although we have accomplished much, there is still a great deal of important work to be done,” stated Hein in a release that afternoon. “Ulster County is where my heart is…This was an extremely difficult choice that I did not make hastily.”
Whether Hein would quit being county exec to seek the seat to be vacated by Republican congressman Chris Gibson was a campaign issue brought up repeatedly by Terry Bernardo, whom Hein defeated for re-election. Last month, all eleven Democratic county chairs in the congressional district signed a letter asking Hein to run.
On Tuesday, Hein said his family and his lifelong connection with Ulster also weighed heavily in his thoughts. “I am very pleased to be able to serve the people of Ulster County. This was the place I was born and raised. It matters to me at my core.”
While three Republicans — former assemblyman and failed gubernatorial candidate John Faso of Columbia County, Dutchess businessman Andrew Heaney and Schoharie County assemblyman Pete Lopez — have announced their campaign, so far the only Democrat who’s in the race (or at least filed papers to run in it) is Dutchess’ John Patrick Kehoe. According to Roll Call, which wrote about the race back in July, Kehoe is chairman and CEO of Yellowcake Music, a music management firm. Kehoe’s LinkedIn business-related social media profile currently states he’s in “the Rochester area” and “seeking employment in business strategy.”
Noted the National Republican Congressional Committee in its take on Hein’s passing of the cup, “Ulster County Executive Mike Hein just dropped a huge load of coal into the stockings of local and national Democrats this afternoon by announcing that he would not run for Congress in NY-19.”
Hein didn’t see it that way and in his statement said he would support whomever the Democrats tap to run. “[This] is an important election and I look forward to working with our Democratic candidate to provide a strong voice in Washington for the great people of this entire district and I am confident that a Democrat will win this seat.”
County comptroller might run
On Tuesday, December 22, Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach said a run was definitely on his mind. “I guess the word is pondering,” said Auerbach, adding that he had been asked to run by some.
Noting that he was a “small-town no-labels type of guy,” who ended up in one of the county’s top elected positions, Auerbach, an Ellenville native, said he had spoken to Democratic Party people on the county and local levels and was planning to discuss with his family over the holidays. “A lot of discussion needs to take place … “It’s a huge commitment in terms of time and travel,” he said. He said he thinks he’ll have an answer in two weeks or so.
Dutchess County Legislator Joel Tyner, who failed in a Congressional primary bid in 2012 to get the party’s line from eventual nominee Julian Schreibman, said over the weekend that he would “love to give it another goal, but if and only if labor and activists are up for it.”