New York: Clinton Aide in, Stratton Out of Open-Seat Race

Posted February 11, 2008 at 6:39pm

The former director of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D) Albany-area office jumped into the race to replace retiring Rep. Mike McNulty (D) late last week, and quickly — and somewhat surprisingly — may have become the frontrunner.

Tracey Brooks (D), who left the Senator’s payroll last month and then headed up Clinton’s Albany-area operation in the runup to last week’s presidential primary, sounded very much like her former boss in her announcement statement, saying she has “the right experience to get the job done from day one.”

Brooks became the second Democrat to enter the race, behind Albany County Legislator Phil Steck. But in a surprising development, Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton (D) — whose father held the seat from 1959 to 1988 and who was expected to get into the race later this month — announced Monday that he would not run.

“After a thorough consideration and careful examination of what to me was a unique opportunity to run for Congress, and potentially serve in the seat once held by my late father, I have decided that I can best serve the needs and citizens of the City of Schenectady by continuing to serve as Mayor,” Stratton said in a statement.

Stratton’s absence from the race appears to leave former state Assemblyman Paul Tonko as the last big-name Democrat still contemplating whether to run for the seat that McNulty has held for 20 years. Tonko, who spent a quarter-century in the Legislature, was appointed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) to head the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority last year.

Regardless of who else gets in, Brooks is beginning to line up the support of the powerful McNulty family, which has held political office in the Albany area for almost a century. On Monday, the Congressman’s sister, Green Island Mayor Ellen McNulty Ryan (D) endorsed Brooks and agreed to serve as the chairwoman of her campaign committee.

“I believe that Tracey Brooks is the candidate that has the best grasp of the commitment, duties and obligations involved with this office, and I intend to work hard for her,” McNulty Ryan said.

Former Bloomberg Aide Drops GOP House Bid

Richard Wager (R), a former aide to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), announced Monday that he was dropping his Congressional bid in the 20th district.

Three candidates remain in the hunt for the Republican nomination and the right to challenge freshman Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) in November, led by former state GOP Chairman Sandy Treadwell, who is the favorite of national Republicans.

In a statement, Wager criticized “the failures of a few Republican leaders” for creating a less-than-democratic nominating process, but he expressed confidence that the GOP would send a strong candidate into battle with Gillibrand.

“My staying in this race will only fracture support within our Party and delay the urgent goal of engaging the incumbent Democrat in a meaningful debate,” Wager said. “Replacing an ineffective representative is our common and principal goal.”

Young Business Exec May Run for Walsh Seat

Add one more name to the list of possible candidates in the race to replace retiring Rep. Jim Walsh (R).

Businessman Robert Andrews (R), the 35-year-old vice president of a high-tech security company in Syracuse, told The Post-Standard newspaper over the weekend that he will decide whether to run in the next two weeks.

“As a relatively young member of our community, I am seeking representatives that are fresh, have new ideas, and are ready to face the current challenges our region and our country are presented with,” Andrews said.

No Republican has entered the race since Walsh announced his retirement plans last month, but former New York State Fair Director Peter Cappuccilli is leaning toward a bid and East Syracuse Mayor Dan Liedka is another possibility.

On the Democratic side, former Capitol Hill aide Dan Maffei, the 2006 nominee who finished just 2 points behind Walsh, is the lone candidate right now, but other Democrats, including Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll, have not ruled out the possibility of running.

The 25th district is one of just eight that voted for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in the 2004 White House election but still have Republican Representatives, so with Walsh leaving it is a major Democratic pickup.
— Josh Kurtz