Over the weekend the Ulster County Republican Committee met to nominate candidates to run for the Kingston and county legislative offices in November.
There is currently no Republican candidate nominated to run against county executive Jen Metzger in the November election. Michael Kavanagh, now not enrolled in any party, received the Republican blessing to contest the race for district attorney
After a modest redistricting, the seats of all 23 Ulster County legislators will be up for election. Both parties say they’re searching for additional candidates.
If no new candidates emerge, eleven seats will be uncontested. Eight of these are held by Democrats Aaron Levine, Joe Maloney, Abe Uchitelle, Peter Criswell, Megan Sperry, Eric Stewart, Manna Jo Greene and Kathy Nolan. The three incumbent candidates on the Republican line without opposition at this time are Gina Hansut, Thomas Corcoran and Kevin Roberts.
But the big story is not who may be coming in but who’s leaving. Legislature chair Tracey Bartels, vice-chair Eve Walter, majority leader Jonathan Heppner and minority leader Ken Ronk are all stepping down. So are committee chairs Laura Petit and Brian Cahill. Never in the history of the Ulster legislature has such senior leadership on both sides of the aisle departed at one time.
Two newly nominated legislator-elects, all from strongly Democratic districts, are currently facing no opposition in November. They are Greg McCullough in Phil Erner’s Kingston district and Jeff Collins in Jonathan Heppner’s Kingston-West Hurley district.
Secretary of the Ulster County Republican Committee John Quigley said the Republicans, at a four-to-one enrollment disadvantage, didn’t submit any Kingston names for recognition. “We’ve been beaten down so many times and at this point, it’s like the Democrats are telling Republicans what Republicans stand for without Republicans having a voice,” complained Quigley. “It’s become very difficult for us to have a conversation about what Republicans stand for.”
He thought the GOP “had to look at it on a local level, and just go back to our roots right now.” Making sure the party had qualified candidates for office was essential.
Next week the Republican executive committee will consider embracing the opportunity-to-ballot (OTB) method of recruiting candidates in order to force a write-in primary, where all registered members of that party would have the ability to write in who they think would be the most qualified candidate to run for office in each district.