Thursday, February 9th, 2023
Thursday, February 9th, 2023

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Sporting groups eye state Senate races

Albany — All 63 state Senate seats are up for grabs in New York on Nov. 4, but state sporting groups will be watching four more closely than others as Democrats and Republicans battle for control of the Senate.

The GOP majority in the past has blocked numerous anti-gun bills.

Republicans generally vote more favorably toward gun issues, so groups like New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Shooters Committee on Political Education-New York and National Rifle Association typically endorse GOP candidates.

This year seems no different in that regard. But what is different is the Republican majority in the Senate hangs precariously in the balance thanks to a number of factors, most notably the defection of a group of Democrats who sided with GOP senators in recent years. 

And Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic architect of the SAFE Act, faces a growing challenge from Republican Rob Astorino.

Stephen Aldstadt, president of SCOPE-NY, predicted a closer governor’s race than many think, despite Cuomo’s big spending advantage over Astorino.

Not only is Cuomo strongly opposed by gun owners perturbed by the SAFE Act, he also faces opposition from many voters over the way the Common Core education plan was introduced, Aldstadt said.

“The governor’s race is going to be a lot tighter than people think,” he said.

Legislators’ records on the controversial SAFE Act “is a huge factor this election season,” said Tom King, president of the NYSRPA.

Pro-gun groups have focused much of their attention on two Senate districts on opposite ends of the state, the 60th and 46th, where a Republican stands a good chance against an incumbent Democrat and a former Republican who supported the SAFE Act, respectively. 

The 60th District has been held by Mark Grisanti, a SAFE Act supporter who lost the Republican primary in September but is on the Nov. 4 ballot as an independent.

Challenger Kevin Stocker has the GOP line in that race.

Grisanti is chairman of the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, which dictates what sporting- and conservation-related bills make it to the floor in that house.

“Gun owners are furious with Grisanti,” Aldstadt said.

The 46th features Republican former Assemblyman George Amedore challenging incumbent Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk, and Amedore has had the lead in polls as of mid-October.

Incumbent Democrats in the 55th and 41st districts are also facing stiff challenges from Republicans, and some view those seats as ones Republicans have a good shot of winning.

“The polls in the races that we are watching closely look good,” Aldstadt said.

NYSRPA and SCOPE have posted plenty of information regarding candidates on their websites, with SCOPE putting together a smartphone application that has a “report card” on candidates that allows for access at polling places. It can be found in the iTunes and Android stores or scopevoterapp.org. 

“You can download that voter app to your phone and take it to the polling place with you,” Aldstadt said.

NYSRPA’s website also includes endorsements in other non-statewide races.

The New York State Conservation Council does not endorse specific candidates. But council president Chuck Parker said failing to vote Nov. 4 is “actively endorsing … what has happened to us over the last couple of years.

“If you feel the New York SAFE Act is an injustice to your constitutional rights, if only by the way it was passed, and there is much more, you need to vote,” he said. “If you see yourself as a sportsman being ignored, losing access and opportunity to hunt, fish and trap, you need to vote.”

“We can effect change,” Parker added. “The number of like-minded eligible voters to effect change is there.”

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