Senator Dave Valesky had decided to end his campaign for re-election, saying the time has come to move on. Valesky narrowly lost the democratic primary to Rachel May earlier this month. He released a statement today that indicated the difficult choice he had to make.
"For the past two weeks, I've spent countless hours discussing the state of the Senate race with individuals from all corners of the district who've urged me to run an active, independent campaign for re-election. I've had numerous conversations with family and friends. It's time for the process to end."
Valesky, of Oneida, had faced his first primary challenge since taking office in 2004. While his name remains on the ballot on the Independence and Women's Equality party lines, Valesky says he's decided not to actively campaign in the interest of providing clarity for voters.
In his statement, Valesky calls his time serving the 53rd district "the privilege of a lifetime." He says he'll continue that work for the next three months, after which he'll pursue new opportunities. Valesky did not mention his opponent, Rachel May.
During the campaign, May targeted Valesky for his 7 years serving with the Independent Democratic Conference, which frequently caucused with republicans. May and other critics said this essentially blocked progressive legislation from making it to the floor for a vote. Valesky and other members defended the coalition, saying the IDC was actually able to push through more legislation than if they served solely as democrats.
In a statement, May thanked Valesky for his 14 years of service to the district. She credited him for running a clean, respectable campaign.
"Throughout the campaign, he was unfailingly kind to me and I appreciate the positive, issue-based race he ran. Now that every vote has been tallied and the people have spoken, I am glad to move forward in the spirit of unity."
May says up and down the ballot, it's important to elect Democrats.
May will face Republican Janet Burman in November. Burman faces an uphill battle in a district that has nearly 71,000 enrolled democrats compared to 47,000 republicans. But there are also more than 42,000 who aren’t enrolled in any party.
Last week, after the absentee ballots made it clear May was the victor, Onondaga County GOP party chair Tom Dadey lashed out in a statement, calling May a radical extremist who will slap tax after tax on residents. He also claims she’ll make communities more dangerous by giving driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, and bankrupt the state by giving them free tuition. But Dadey never mentions his own party’s candidate, Janet Burman.
May dismissed the rhetoric.
"I'm not some kinds of fringe, extremist. That's not where I'm coming from," she said at the time. "I think those kinds of attacks are maybe all they have because they are not appealing to the majority of the voters."