Says Democrat agenda in state government ‘jeopardizes our safety and threatens our way of life’
HEUVELTON — With nearly half of her conference in the New York State Senate heading for the exit, State Sen. Patty Ritchie says she’s not going anywhere.
As of this week, nine of the sitting 23 GOP State Senators who began their 2-year terms in January 2019 have announced their intentions to not seek re-election or resigned to pursue other offices or jobs. It’s been an unprecedented exodus from a coalition largely comprised of veteran Long Island and upstate lawmakers.
Ritchie recently told The Palladium-Times she doesn’t plan to join her colleagues and “now more than ever,” the 48th State Senate District — Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties —needs “a strong voice that stands up for our needs in Albany.”
“I remain committed to defending the values of central and northern New Yorkers, and vow to continue to advocate for changes that will help grow our region's economy, keep us safe and create more opportunity for all,” Ritchie said.
The St. Lawrence County native, who served a decade as county clerk before winning election to the State Senate in 2010, last year was relegated to the minority conference for the first time in her tenure. Democrats won a 40-23 Senate majority in the 2018 elections, putting all three lawmaking entities in Albany — the Senate, Assembly and governor’s desk — under their control. Since then, the agenda has been one-sided, with the only meaningful debate on bills taking place internally between Democratic Party leaders.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo dubbed sweeping criminal justice reforms and driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants part of his “2019 Justice Agenda” but Ritchie and Pulaski Assemblyman Will Barclay have another name for it: “The Year of the Criminal.”
“In the past year, we've seen downstate politicians force a radical progressive agenda on upstate New York that jeopardizes our safety and threatens our way of life,” Ritchie said.
Barclay said he was glad to see his longtime coworker buck the trend of GOP departures.
“Patty has been a great leader here locally and in Albany and we’re lucky she’s running for re-election,” he said. Like all New York legislators, Barclay is also up for election next fall.
With so many Republicans retiring, Democrats are poised to potentially expand their conference to a supermajority capable of overriding Cuomo’s veto — something Assembly Democrats already enjoy.
Senate Republican spokesperson Candice Giove said Ritchie was part of a 2020 “strong slate of Republican candidates who know who important it is to fight for our taxpayers, small businesses and upstate priorities.”
“We expect that voters will reject the radical ideas of Democrats who have pushed a New York City-centric agenda on the entire state,” Giove said. “Senator Ritchie is a valued voice in our conference and we are looking forward to having her continue to lead on priorities for the North Country.”
Ritchie has run the past three elections without an opponent; in 2012, Oswego’s Amy Tresidder was the last serious candidate to challenge for the 48th District seat but managed only 31 percent of the vote.
“I am grateful for the trust and faith my constituents have placed in me for nearly 10 years and would be honored to again have their support as I seek another term,” Ritchie said.