April 27th, 2022

By Maury Thompson

A local Democratic leader said the state Court of Appeals decision on Wednesday to throw out the state’s congressional and state Senate redistricting maps and, likely, delay the primary election to August, creates more hurdles to unseating U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville.

“As if a confusing year couldn’t get more confusing,” said Washington County Democratic Chairman Alan Stern in a telephone interview.

A later primary delays the point where the party can unify behind a nominee, and increases the cost that candidates spend on their primary campaigns, particularly if a new petition process is required, he said.

Often, political contributors wait until after a primary is decided to contribute.

Furthermore, he said, August is a harder time to get out voters than in June.

“That’s a time when things really slow down. A lot of people take vacations in August,” he said. “It changes the election landscape.”

Stern said he was surprised at the decision, but area Republicans said it was the decision they expected all along.

“The decision rendered by the highest court in New York state, the Court of Appeals is a win for all New Yorkers and confirms what we have been saying all along: New York Democrats illegally drew gerrymandered congressional lines to protect themselves and hurt all New Yorkers,” Stefanik said in a statement.

“The courts have spoken and they agree with what I said when the Majority first passed these redistricting maps,” said state Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, in a statement. “This was never really a redistricting; it was a savage attack on our democracy where the Majority used the nuclear option to ignore the will of voters who wanted an independent redistricting process.”

Democrats said it doesn’t change the importance of this year’s election.

“The lines may change, but the mission remains the same. I am in this race to defeat Elise Stefanik,” said Matt Putorti, a lawyer from Whitehall who is one of two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Stefanik. “For voters’ sake, we hope this process is finalized soon.”

The other candidate is Matt Castelli, a former CIA counterterrorism official from the town of Saratoga.

“No matter where the lines are drawn, one thing remains clear: we need a candidate who can unite a broad coalition of voters of all backgrounds — someone who has national security experience, someone who understands the values of working families in this district, and someone who is willing to put in the work to deliver real results for NY-21,” the Castelli campaign said in a statement.

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