Races To Watch Today (Updated)

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Happy Election Day, and while it’s a local election year, there are plenty of potential statewide implications from the results tonight.

  • In Erie County, Republican County Executive Chris Collins is seeking a second term against Democratic county comptroller Mark Poloncarz. Collins is considered a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2014, despite a troubled run for governor in 2010 when he compared Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, an orthodox Jew, to Hitler and the anti-Christ.

It’s a tight race, with a Siena College poll commissioned over the weekend by Gannett’s WGRZ and the Buffalo News showing it deadlocked, 48 percent to 48 percent. A programming note: WGRZ will be streaming the results live tonight.

It’s one of six county executive races on the ballot today — Erie, Albany, Broome, Monroe, Dutchess and Suffolk. Updated: A reader respectfully pointed out there’s also a Putnam County executive’s race for the open seat created when former Sen. Vincent Leibell was indicted and abandoned the county executive post he was elected to last November.

  • Suffolk County’s executive race is also being closely watched. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stumped for both Poloncarz and Suffolk County Democratic candidate Steve Bellone, who is running against Republican treasurer Angie Carpenter to fill a seat being vacated by Democrat-turned-Republican Steve Levy.

Levy has had his own statewide aspirations, but those were dashed when he lost the GOP nomination for governor last year to Carl Paladino at the Republican convention. In March, he announced he would not seek a third term in a deal with local prosecutors over his campaign funds.

  • Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks is seeking a third term against Democratic Brighton supervisor Sandra Frankel, who ran for lieutenant governor in 1998 with gubernatorial candidate Peter Vallone. A Democrat and Chronicle poll last month showed Brooks held a 51 percent to 35 percent lead.

Brooks has also been mentioned as a potential statewide candidate, perhaps to run against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand next year or to run for Congress.

  • Another potential statewide candidate isn’t on the ballot, but the stakes are high for him. Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino, a Republican, is pushing hard to have Republicans pick up at least one seat on the county Legislature.

Doing so would break Democrats supermajority on the board and their ability to override Astorino’s vetoes — something they’ve done regularly over his fiscal conservative proposals. Astorino is considered a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2014. The county faces a $114 million deficit next year, and Astorino has vowed not to raise taxes.

  • A state Assembly race in western New York is also important. Assembly Republicans hold 51 seats in the 150-member chamber, giving them the ability to block a potential veto override if Cuomo were to veto a bill. But that important power is threatened today because Assemblyman James Hayes, R-Amherst, Erie County, left the seat in September, leaving what is believed to be a tight election between Democrat Craig Bucki and Republican Raymond Walter.

 

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