New York Assemblymember Jake Ashby will seek election to the state Senate, he announced Tuesday, adding to a multitude of congressional and state Senate hopefuls launching their campaigns after new district boundaries were released Monday.
Ashby, a Castleton native, is the first Republican to declare his candidacy for the reconfigured 43rd Senate District, which includes all of Rensselaer County, the northwestern piece of Albany County and all but the northern part of Washington County.
"It's something I've been thinking about for a while," said Ashby, who won the special Assembly election to fill the 107th District seat when Steve McLaughlin vacated it in 2018 after he was elected Rensselaer County executive.
Democrat Andrea Smyth, who lost the county executive race to McLaughlin, is running to flip the 43rd Senate seat blue.
Ashby is a former U.S. Army captain and medical officer who completed a tour in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has advanced legislation to help veterans and first responders during his Assembly tenure.
Ashby has pushed for policy changes to help veterans, including bills to create peer mental health support programs for first responders and frontline health workers struggling with depression, anxiety or PTSD or the Alex R. Jimenez New York State Military Immigrant Family Legacy Program to aid foreign-born veteran families that have failed to advance in the Senate. The delay sparked Ashby's desire to seek election to the upper house.
"We've been able to get a lot done in the Assembly with veterans' legislation, but some of the things, whether veterans or health care-related have passed in the Assembly but have been held up in the Senate," Ashby said. "I'd like to continue the good work I've done here in the Senate."
The failure of the Senate to pass and create the Jimenez Immigrant Family Legacy Program was the main catalyst for Ashby's decision to campaign in the other chamber.
Ashby, a member of the Veterans' Affairs, Health and Aging committees, has received two Bronze Stars, the Army Commendation medal and the Combat Action badge for his military service.
"We unfortunately weren't able to make the same headway there," he added. "I bring a focused approach to work in a bipartisan way. That does take place in that chamber, but what I can contribute... the relationships I've been able to build throughout the [Assembly] on both sides of the aisle, I think bringing that into the Senate would go a long way."
A court-appointed special master released his reconfigured state Senate and congressional boundaries Monday after the state Court of Appeals ruled the original maps drawn and adopted by the Legislature were unconstitutionally gerrymandered.
Brooklyn Democrat Assemblyman Robert Carroll announced on Twitter late Monday afternoon he is considering a run for the 10th Congressional District.
"Our country is at a crossroads and we need progressive leadership that can get results," he wrote.
Democrat Josh Riley declared he will run for the 19th Congressional District after campaigning for the 22nd for several months. A special election is expected to be held for the seat this summer before the Aug. 23 primary after Antonio Delgado, the current 19th District congressman, is expected to leave federal office and become the state's next lieutenant governor later this month.
The National Republican Congressional Committee named Marc Molinaro seeking election to the 19th Congressional District and Colin Schmitt running for the 18th District as "NRCC Young Guns" on Tuesday, a program that works to support strong Republican campaigns in the nation's most competitive congressional races.
The state Supreme Court is expected to approve the congressional and state Senate lines by Friday to adopt the districts for the next 10 years.