Tenney Farber

A Republican incumbent in a heavily Republican district where there is no Democratic challenger would normally be a safe bet for re-election.

But in New York’s 101st Assembly District, the incumbent, Claudia Tenney, a Republican from Oneida County, finds herself locked in a spirited duel with Herkimer County Sheriff Chris Farber, who has been criss-crossing the serpentine-shaped district in recent weeks to get his message out to GOP voters in advance of the Sept. 9 primary.

Tenney is in the middle of her second campaign in under three months. In June, she was handily defeated in her effort to unseat Rep. Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, after weeks of attacking him as being out of step with mainstream GOP positions on key issues.

It wasn’t until late June, after that defeat, that Tenney announced she wanted to keep her current job and began asking local Republicans for their support. By then, however, Farber was already in the race, having announced his candidacy three weeks earlier.

The sheriff was also on his way to collecting the backing of the Otsego County Republican Committee. Farber also flexed muscle on his home court, accepting the nod from the Herkimer County GOP.

The 101st District stretches more than 100 miles, running from Oneida County to Orange County, traversing several towns in Otsego and Delaware counties along the way. They include: Springfield, Middlefield, Westford, Maryland, Davenport, Meredith, Delhi, Bovina, Hamden and Andes.

Tenney, in an interview, contended she deserves another term in Albany because she has advocated for the interests of small business owners and family farms. She noted she has joined the movement to stop the controversial Common Core program in public schools and has been a vocal critic of the New York SAFE Act, legislation advanced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year to reduce access to military-style firearms.

In a statement, Farber made a thinly-veiled reference to Tenney’s attempt to use her Assembly seat as a springboard into Congress this year. “I plead to the voters I will not use my position as Assemblyman as a stepping stone for higher office,” he said in a statement.

Farber also vowed to seek the repeal of the SAFE Act, noting that as sheriff he supported legal action by the state Sheriff’s Association against the law.

If elected, he said he will “look for ways to cut the high taxes and stop the unfunded mandates which are hurting the families and businesses in upstate New York.”

He also said he wants to go to Albany because “I recognize I will have more opportunities to help upstaters by being the Assemblyman who can help them cut through the maze of state agencies and red tape.”

Regardless of what happens on Sept. 9, both candidates are expected to be on the ballot in November. That’s because Farber has the Independence line, while Tenney has the Conservative Line.

Tenney sharply criticized Farber’s suitability to serve in the Legislature, noting he is not a lawyer and arguing he has “no law enforcement background” and has presided over a “mismanaged” Herkimer County Jail.

“This is a guy who can’t even run the jail,” she said. “The Sheriff’s Department has no road patrol. He has no qualifications for the job he’s in, never mind the Legislature.”

Farber’s office said he was unavailable for comment.

His campaign manager, Brendan Quinn, took issue with the jabs from Tenney, and pointed out candidates for the Assembly or Senate are not required to be judges.

Alluding to an earlier quest by Tenney to get elected as a state Supreme Court judge, Quinn said, “She is has run for so many positions she may be confused and may think she is running for judge.”

Quinn said Farber understands the needs of small businesses, having run an auto body shop in his hometown of Little Falls, where he was raised in a family of 10 children.

Farber, before becoming sheriff 10 years ago, had served as a town justice in Little Falls for 20 years.

Tenney was first elected to the Assembly in 2010. She is co-owner and counsel to Mid-York Press Inc., a commercial printing and manufacturing firm started by her grandfather. It employs nearly 80 people in Sherburne, according to her campaign web site.

Regardless of what happens on Sept. 9, both candidates are expected to be on the ballot in November. That’s because Farber has the Independence line, while Tenney has the Conservative Line.

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