The GOP candidate for Assembly from 2014 is widely thought to be getting the recommendation for a Wilson/Pakula to run again this year when St Lawrence County Conservative Party members meet today at Sergi's Restaurant in Potsdam. John Byrne is also seeking the Republican line and will be given the Independence line as well. Mr.Byrne has not publicly announced but has been making the rounds to party meetings.
GOP rival Russ Finley will compete for the B line in September and will make a pitch for Conservative support. Two other people, Joe Gilbert and William Sheridan have been mentioned as possibly having interest.
The Conservative W/P is actually given by State Chair Michael Long, but he will be under pressure to give it to whoever the GOP chairs are supporting so they can "unify" the three lines in another bid to unseat Assemblywoman Addie Russell.
The only way a primary could occur in the Conservative Party is if someone registered in that party circulated petitions. (We'll leave OTB's for another day)
Despite a close race in 2014, insiders on both sides privately say Ms. Russell is tougher to beat this year due to the Presidential turnout, fading of issues that were big two years ago, and a stated intent by Mr. Byrne's rivals to unload what they say is considerable opposition research on his business dealings in the Oneonta area where he used to live. Some of that surfaced in a radio interview last week.
However, Mr. Byrne was a media darling last time and worked hard to pull to within 90 votes in a race he was expected to lose big time. Ms. Russell has reshuffled her staff, putting a media smart staffer in place who has turned around much of the negative coverage she had been getting.
Mr. Finley is not well liked by Conservative chair Hank Ford or the GOP leadership in either county in the 116th District.