Ulster County executive Pat Ryan may have accomplished a dramatic political perfecta, defeating two competitors in two separate contests for two different jobs all in the same night. It was a real squeaker. With 95 percent of the vote tallied at midnight on election night, Ryan held close to a 3000-vote lead, 65,995 to Marc Molinaro’s 63,137. If five percent of the vote. or about 6500 votes, were indeed outstanding, Molinaro would have to have won almost all of them to overtake Ryan. CNN and the Washington Post called the race for Ryan after midnight.
To claim the Democratic Party nomination for the new 18th CD, Ryan dispatched media pundit and Hudson Valley newcomer Aisha Mills by a convincing margin. By hanging on to the lead over Molinaro, he earned the right to represent the 19th district congressional seat — left vacant by Antonio Delgado — until the old boundaries expire on January 1. If Ryan is sworn into Congress, ot should happen somewhere around the first week of September. Deputy executive Joanna Contreras will take over as interim county executive.
To be a congressman in January, Ryan will have to knock out New York assemblyman Colin Schmidt, the Republican nominee who will be waiting for him on November 8. Molinaro’s political outlook will get a second opportunity in a contest against Democrat Josh Riley for the new 19th District, now resurrected with new boundaries by redistricting.
The unusual contest taking place between two county executives of differing political persuasion may have spurred the elevated voter turnout in Ulster County. “We’ve got about 32,000 people that have voted between early voting today and absentees,” said Ashley Dittus, an election commissioner for Ulster County. “And that is more than we thought we would get seeing that it’s August. We certainly have passed our turnout for our primary elections had June 1 to our total that we had in last November.”
It could also be a blunt testament to the power of money in advertising, “A lot of money has been spent on this special election,” says Dittus. “Millions and millions of dollars.”
The special election Democratic primary for the 19th District saw a battle between Harvard Law School grad Josh Riley of Endicott against Harvard Business School Grad and beef farmer Jamie Cheney. Riley pulled away from his competitor early on.
Riley raised $1.1 million without corporate PAC money, though Riley did accept contributions from labor PACs and hybrid PACs such as End Citizens United.
Whatever the result, Marc Molinaro will power on to face Riley in yhe Novemeber 8 general election.
According to election commissioner Dittus these high stakes elections, went extremely well.
“We trained all of our inspectors. They came in between the end of July and up through yesterday. And we taught them what this election would look like,” said Dittus,” and how we expected them to sign in people and issue the [ballots]. Some of them in the case of the Democratic voters getting two ballots, and Republicans in the towns where we have the state Senate primary for the 51st district, that they would also be getting two ballots, but emphasizing that all voters no matter what party they’re in, get to participate in the special election.”
Tonight’s winners will sleep in the arms of euphoria tonight. Losers will eat their hearts out.