With the state and local primary less than a week away, Marc Butler and Patrick Vincent are set to face off for the Republican slot on the November ballot for the 118th district seat in the state assembly.
Incumbent Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport, has been in office for 21 years but never has faced a challenger in a Republican primary.
That streak ends Tuesday when Patrick Vincent will challenge Butler in the GOP primary for the 118th Assembly District.
The change likely is part of a nationwide shift in the Republican Party that can be seen clearly in the current political landscape, said Utica-based pollster John Zogby.
A lot of Republicans have become disenchanted with the Republican Party, so there’s a fracture — nationwide — within it, he said.
“It says a whole lot more about the political landscapes than it does about Marc Butler,” he said. “There is traditionally a power of incumbency, and that especially translates historically into being a representative of your party. … The problem is, establishment figures, including well-known figures like Butler, are being challenged by insurgents all over the country.”
Vincent, who owns Vincent’s Heating and Fuel in Poland, stepped in this year because he said it’s time for a change in how things are run at the state level.
“We’ve been encouraged by friends and family and business owners and people in the legal profession, just people in general, that want a change in direction,” Vincent said. “(They want) a change in the whole idea that the government works for us and Albany doesn’t seem to be listening to our current assemblyman. They want somebody who is not afraid to call people out, which is what I’ve done my whole life. If you’re not doing your job or if you’re not following through with good Republican values, you’ll be hearing from me directly.”
Regardless of Tuesday's primary results, Butler will be on the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election because he’s on three other party lines — Independence, Conservative and Reform.
Even so, Butler has approached this election differently because of Vincent.
“I think, if anything, you have to focus on your message and what you want to say,” Butler said. “The timetable is different, in terms of fundraising and all those other things; you kind of have to change those around. … Next Tuesday will very much be a deciding factor in the election, so we’ve had to re-gear everything and reschedule things and get ready quicker than we normally would have.”
Among other things, Vincent is a big supporter of term limits. He believes once a person serves eight years in the Assembly they should be done because it’s about serving people, not making a career out of it.
He also wants to focus on the creation of jobs and giving trade schools more funding because not everyone can or wants to go to college.
Butler said his focus has been on moving the state forward, making changes to Common Core so that students can get the best education possible and getting rid of the gridlock in the Assembly.
Something both candidates agree upon is that the SAFE Act dealing with guns isn’t good for Upstate New York, and their constituents want it repealed.
Their approaches, however, are a bit different.
Butler would like to see the Assembly approach things differently in upstate versus downstate, instead of assuming what is good for one is going to work in the other.
“One of the things that I have focused on, and one of the things I noticed when they did the minimum wage increase, is they did a different schedule of implementing for upstate and downstate,” he said. “So I looked at that and I said, ‘Look, this is finally an acknowledgement that upstate and downstate clearly have different interests, different beliefs, different philosophies.’ So I proposed a change to the SAFE Act that would have a different upstate version, a much softer version, because it’s clear that upstate the SAFE Act is not held in high regard.”
Vincent wants to see the entire act repealed because he said it doesn’t represent the Republican values that a large portion of the district — which has Remington Arms in it — believe in.
“Remington Arms gave me their endorsement because I’m not afraid to call out fellow Republicans for voting for the Safe Act,” Vincent said. “And one is our Senate Majority leader John Flanagan. … He proudly said that he voted for the Safe Act and then later on in his statement said the Safe Act will not be repealed in New York state. Now I’ve got a problem with a Republican talking like that.”
Whatever happens on Tuesday, both of the candidates as well as Zogby agree that this has been an unusual year for politics and the Republican Party itself.
“We’re watching a party fall apart,” Zogby said. “The Republicans have four different strands of conservatism, and they all pretty much hate each other. … This is a strange year.”
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