Ulster Dems pick Ryan for county exec

Pat Ryan (photo by Phyllis McCabe)

Pat Ryan scored a decisive victory in his bid to become Ulster’s next county executive when the county’s Democratic Committee handed him the nomination and a spot on the ballot in an upcoming special election. In weighted voting at the Best Western in Kingston, Ryan beat out fellow Democrat Pat Courtney Strong 16,117 to 11,660.

The nomination means that Ryan will be the Democratic candidate in a special election to fill out the remainder of former County Executive Mike Hein’s term, which ends on Dec. 31. Hein resigned earlier this month to take a post as the commissioner of the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. A general election on Nov. 5 will elect a county executive for a full four-year term. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not set a date for the special election; according to the county charter, the election must be held no later than May 8.

Ryan is a 36-year-old graduate of the U.S. Military Academy who served two tours in Iraq as a battalion intelligence officer. He was a senior vice president of Dataminr, a technology company that produces intelligence-gathering software, and founded Praescient Analytics, which provides software used by the military to protect troops overseas. He no longer works for either company.


Last year, he was a runner-up in a seven-way primary for the 19th Congressional District seat currently occupied by Democrat Antonio Delgado. Ryan is a Kingston native who currently resides in Gardiner.

He faced a challenge from Strong, a 63-year-old Kingston businesswoman with a background in green energy. In 2018 Strong ran an unsuccessful campaign against state Senator George Amedore (R-Rotterdam). Following Wednesday’s vote, Strong declined to rule out or rule in a primary campaign against Ryan for the Democratic Party line in the November general election.

“Unknown at this point, unknown,” said Strong when asked if she would compete in the June 25 primary. The name of former Woodstock town supervisor Jeff Moran, who says he will run in the primary, was not placed in nomination at the convention.

Ryan meanwhile invoked Ulster County Democrats’ triumphant 2018 campaign season while outlining a progressive vision for the county’s future. “We’re going to harness that energy that we brought out in 2018 and we’re seeing so far and the message that we’ve had in this campaign of environmental justice, of social justice of economic justice,” said Ryan. We need to take that message to every corner and every one of the 24 towns and villages and municipalities in this count.”

Along with Ryan, The Democratic Committee endorsed two other candidates for countywide office. Facing no opposition, attorney Bryan Rounds of the Town of Ulster was nominated for County Court judge while another veteran of the 2018 congressional primary, trial attorney David Clegg of Woodstock, was nominated for district attorney. The Ulster County Republican Committee will meet on Saturday, Feb. 23 to choose their candidates for the 2019 election season.

There are 9 comments

  1. JamaicaonHudson

    Ugh. Nope. This was a weighted primary–meaning a bunch of party insiders got together and voted. There is no way “Ulster Dems” would willingly nominate a man know as Spyin’ Pat Ryan to represent them. And I suspect Ulster County’s voters in general, if given a chance, wouldn’t trust a man who’s wealth was derived from robbing other Americans of their right to privacy…

    Now, normally (in the interest of “getting along”) I would give a neutral, even-keeled response…However, in light of last night’s malarkey surrounding the County Exec’s nomination, Imma have to be honest: In my opinion, the better candidate (i.e. Pat Strong) was robbed of the nomination in-favor of a establishment choice. Despite his military service, the better candidate for Ulster County (better on environmental issues, the green economy, small business development, social justice, and women’s rights) was Pat Strong. In addition, as evidenced in the NYS Senate race, she’s supported by Progressives, establishment Democrats, and even some Republicans in Ulster (which allowed her to carry the county by a wide margin). Despite these facts, the party establishment engaged in backroom horse-trading and deal-making to secure the nomination for Ryan.

    Furthermore, Ryan, however you feel about him in a personal capacity, was revealed to have benefited from spying on progressive groups. These same groups–many of whom were assisted by an army of progressive women, helped elect Delgado, Metzger, and Juan Figueroa (among others) and were/are an intergral force in the campaigns for DA (Clegg) and County Judge (Rounds)–must now support a man who profited from undermining them. The whole thing reeks of nepotism and party politics. To my understanding, the Republicans aren’t even attempting to find a nominee. It’s wrong because the lack of options (a) denies voters of a real choice and (b) is a slap in the face of those organizing within the progressive community.

    Second, Pat Strong (whether she knows it or not) represented a challenge to the patriarchy within Ulster County’s highest office. A woman challenging the establishment, running for that office (even if she does not prevail)–and being supported–is important. And, no, Pat Ryan reciting “Ain’t I A Woman?” on the steps of the U.C. Courthouse wouldn’t suffice.

    Having said that, taking on an entrenched patriarchial establishment (even one facing a wave of change), is a daunting task. Would I personally like Pat Strong to primary Ryan? Yes. However, I understand if she decides otherwise.

    Just my non-neutral opinion.

  2. Chris Acosta

    The story you refer to is absolute nonsense based on totally blatant speculation. I contaced the writer who couldn’t and wouldn’t provide the hard evidence to support his accusations against Pat Ryan. Like people on the right you just believe whatever is written as long as it supports your version of reality. Critical thinking is a lost art among both the extreme right and left. Pat Ryan is one of the finest individuals I have met and is a brilliant choice for County Executive. He will also win the Primary and General Elections.

  3. ConcernedDemInUlsterCounty

    I agree. Pat Strong is the wisest choice & the Dem decision w/out public input isn’t the democratic way. I also question their reasons in selecting Ryan. He has baggage which will continue to follow him right into office.

  4. Woodstock Al

    Pat Ryan was selected the same way every County level candidate has been selected, in both parties for as long as there has been a county convention system to select candidates. So I say, what malarkey? Ryan was selected in a vote of over 75% of the County committee members. The largest attendance that anyone can recall from what I hear. With that said, any registered voter can circulate petitions to get on the ballot if they follow the rules of the BOE. Ryan is simply the choice of the Ulster County Democratic committee. This is not the end of the process, it is the beginning.
    The sour grape inspired diatribes emanating from the Strong supporters are quite astonishing. One has to wonder if the same level of bellyaching about the fairness of the process would have been heard had Courtney-Strong won. I somehow doubt it.

    1. Susan

      The primary process to determine the Democratic candidate worked very well in the election of Antonio Delgado in the race for US House of Representatives last year. It was a robust primary election. Perhaps, it is a better way to choose a candidate rather than the selection by committee members.

  5. Woodstock Al

    I am surprised that people commenting here are so misinformed. The convention is a beauty contest which is not binding in any way whatsoever. It simply demonstrates the choice of the committee people. The avenue for a primary is still there. There is an opportunity for anyone to circulate petitions and give the voters a choice. I am not understanding what is so difficult to comprehend here. Anyone can primary. Circulate petitions, get enough Democrats to support you and voila, you’re on the ballot! The process allows for as many people who can get on the ballot to get there. If no one chooses to do so, it is not the fault of the process.

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