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Local News

October 5, 2013

GOP, Lopez eye Senate seat

Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie, is being considered by the state GOP as the candidate for a Senate district seat that was won earlier this year by Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, after a high-spending race and a protracted recount, according to Albany political insiders.

Contacted by The Daily Star, Lopez, 52, didn’t rule out the possibility he would take a stab at the seat, which was created by the Senate Republicans two years ago in a move that was widely seen as helping the party retain a majority in Albany.

Lopez, in fact, pointed out that 60 percent of the Senate district in question is within the Assembly district he now represents. He also highlighted the fact that he was raised in the Rotterdam area — one of the most populous locales within the Senate district — and still has family ties there.

In response to questions, he acknowledged he would have to move into the Senate district if he were to decide to challenge Tkaczyk.

“I’ve had some people talk to me about it, but it’s not formally in front of me at this point,” Lopez said.

But with state legislative office offering just two-year terms, the political calendar moves swiftly, and the general election is only 13 months away. For the congressional seat that overlaps part of the same Senate district and will also be decided in November 2014, Democrat Sean Eldridge has already declared himself a candidate and is aggressively raising money in a bid to oust Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook.

A spokesman for state Senate Republicans, Scott Rief, acknowledged that the GOP conference would relish picking up Tkaczyk’s seat.

“We certainly think that is a seat we can win,” Rief told The Daily Star.

Rief argued that constituents would benefit if voters made a change because a Republican senator would be able to drive more resources to the district because Democrats are in the minority in the upper chamber of the state Legislature.

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