Warren County Chairman Dan Stec speaks with people during the Essex County Republican Committee meeting March 21 in Elizabethtown.
Essex County Republicans delivered a decisive blow to the state Assembly hopes of Lake Placid’s Doug Hoffman on March 21, when the county GOP committee threw its weight behind Queensbury Supervisor Dan Stec in the upcoming race for the seat currently held by Teresa Sayward, who is retiring.
Hoffman later dropped out of the campaign, despite the fact that he was recently endorsed by the Warren County Conservative Party. Warren County’s GOP committee threw its support behind Stec the day after the Essex County ballot.
Stec out-polled Hoffman 6419.5 to 4072.5 in the Essex County committee’s weighted vote. Former Glens Falls Mayor Bob Regan and first-term Thurman Town Supervisor Evelyn Wood also sought the committee’s endorsement for the seat. Regan received 290.5 votes. Wood, the youngest of the candidates by a significant margin, came up empty in the balloting.
Thurman, Queensbury and Glens Falls are in Warren County. The State Assembly district represented by Sayward comprises Essex and Warren counties and slices of Saratoga and Washington counties.
Hoffman told the committee that he was the candidate best able to unite the Conservative and Republican parties, but his history of bucking the GOP and throwing his hat in the ring as a Conservative troubled committee members.
Hoffman was the Conservative Party nominee in the 2009 special election won by Congressman Bill Owens and appeared on the Conservative line in the 2010 election for Owens’s seat. Though he withdrew from that race, his name remained on the ballot and he received some 10,000 votes in an election in which Owens prevailed over Republican Matt Doheny by less than 4,000 votes.
All four candidates spoke at the meeting and answered questions from committee members.
“I’m here tonight to ask for your vote, because it’s very important that we keep this seat in Essex County,” Hoffman said. “I’ve lived here all my life. I’ve dealt with the APA. We’re handicapped here by regulations, we’re handicapped by the environmentalists, and they’re trying to squeeze us out of surviving here. We need to restrict not-for-profits that are grabbing up our land and taking it off our tax rolls, making it even more difficult to live here. The number one problem is jobs and the economy. Just making a living up here is very, very difficult.”
He cited his long record of business success and civic involvement as well as his profession (Hoffman is an accountant), as his primary qualifications for the seat.
Stec, the Chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, said his background includes service in the Navy as well as professional experience as an engineer and as the owner of a struggling farm.
“I am serving my fifth term as Queensbury Town Supervisor,” he said. “I have managed the town’s $27 million budget with great success, keeping Queensbury one of the lowest taxed towns in the state. It is this experience serving in local government that has prepared me for the Assembly. Unfunded state mandates are at the heart of all our problems. I will use the experience I’ve gained and the relationships I have with local officials around the district to fight these mandates, reduce needless state and local spending, and improve our business climate.”
Stec said he would fight further additions to state landholdings in the Adirondack Park.
“The state is broke. Stop using the Environmental Protection Fund to buy land. Use that money to fight invasive species,’’’ the Queensbury politico said, calling the fight against invasives a critical issue that can unite business owners and environmentalists.
Stec said that he never has, and never will, run for office without the endorsement of the Republican Party. “I would not challenge the Republican on another line,” he proclaimed to applause from the committee.
Regan, an attorney and a former aide to Sen. Ron Stafford, said he led a successful effort to revitalize his city.
“The Glens Falls you see today is vibrant,” Regan stated. “One of the things that I’m very pleased with came out of the last census: It was the first time in 60 years that Glens Falls saw an increase in population.”
He said his experience in local and state government qualifies him to guide small communities through bureaucratic labyrinths.
“I’d like to sit down with any group focused on making their community a better place and find out what assets I can bring to the table to help them achieve that,” Regan said. “There are no less than 28 state agencies that deal with economic development. I want to help them navigate that maze and match up programs that are appropriate for them and be their advocate. I’ve seen what can happen when a group can leverage a small amount of state assistance for a very significant project in their community.”
The Essex County Republican Committee overwhelmingly voted to endorse Doheny for the new 21st Congressional District and Manhattan attorney Wendy Long for the U.S. Senate.