After being encouraged by state Senate Republicans to seek a seat in the upper house of the state Legislature, Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie, has decided to stay put.
Lopez told The Daily Star that he and his wife, Lisa, decided they did not wish to sell their home in the village of Schoharie and move outside his current district. Such a move would have been required had he decided to mount a challenge to freshman Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, who was elected to a newly created district a year ago.
“It was a privilege to have been asked, but our heart and our focus remains with our community,” said Lopez, noting he wanted to continue to help families struggling in the wake of torrential flooding in 2011 and dealing with unemployment and a slow economy.
Tkaczyk’s district was created by the Senate Republicans in an attempt to elect then Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, to give the GOP insurance in maintaining control of the upper chamber.
The move backfired, however, when the little-known Tkaczyk won the election after raking in contributions of $250,000 each from Jonathan Soros, the son of wealthy Democratic contributor George Soros, and Sean Eldridge, now a Democratic candidate for Congress and the husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. The GOP considers her vulnerable, however, and is expected to mount another candidate against her in the coming year. Amedore has not ruled out a rematch.
First elected to the Assembly seven years ago, Lopez would have needed to move into Tkaczyk’s district by last Tuesday — Election Day — in order to be eligible to run for the Senate seat.
The 46th Senate District includes all of Greene County and Montgomery counties, and portions of Schenectady, Albany and Ulster counties.
Lopez said he and his wife made a final decision against the move several days ago, but kept it to themselves because they did not want the issue to become a distraction while voters were focused on picking local candidates and deciding ballot questions.
Lopez, 52, will host a town hall meeting in Margaretville at 6 p.m. Tuesday for the Delaware County towns of Middletown and Roxbury. The event will be held at the Middletown Town Hall.
In a news release issued Thursday afternoon, Lopez encouraged local residents to attend the event and share their ideas and concerns.
“We are closing in on the end of the 2013 and the start of a new legislative session and year in January.” he said. “Priorities that I will be bringing to Albany include job creation, cutting government spending and implementing mandate relief for our local governments and school districts.”