The names of three former Democratic state senate candidates are being bandied about for a newly carved up seat in the Capital Region, which has the possibility of being a potential pickup for Democrats in November because of its new partisan makeup.
Schenectady County Legislator Michelle Ostrelich, former Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen and SUNY Chief of Staff Aaron Gladd were mentioned by multiple sources this week as potential senate candidates for the fall. The seat, which includes the cities of Saratoga Springs, Schenectady and Troy, is currently the home to incumbent Republican Daphne Jordan, who lives in Halfmoon.
The partisan shift in the district represents an uphill battle for Jordan, who has characterized the lines as the product of partisan gerrymandering.
In 2020, President Joe Biden won about 52 percent of the vote in her current district, while an analysis by the CUNY mapping service indicates that he would have won 60 percent in the newly crafted state senate boundary. Jordan won re-election in 2020 by about five points, so the eight-point Democratic swing at the top of the ticket with the new district likely signals a problem for her – all things being equal.
Ostrelich, a Niskayuna Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for state senate in 2018, says the newly shaped district “makes sense,” noting the shared public transit and hospital systems, among other unifying elements.
“I am very interested,” she said in a conversation with The Capitol Pressroom. A decision on running will come in the future, though, as she gauges her political support, potential path to victory, and personal ramifications of the decision.
Gladd, who unsuccessfully challenged Jordan in 2018, when the then-open seat stretched down into Columbia County, said in a statement that the intensely personal decision to run is being discussed with his family.
“The communities in our district – and all of upstate – deserve strong voices who have a seat at the table and I am committed to ensuring that happens,” Gladd said.
Yepsen, who mounted a losing state senate bid in 2010 and has remained engaged in Saratoga Springs Democratic politics, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about her potential interest in running this year. Two Schenectady County Democratic sources said they heard Yepsen was considering a run, but a source close to her said it was not on the table.
It’s possible that additional candidates will emerge in the next few weeks in advance of the petitioning process, which requires candidates to collect signatures from voters in order to appear on the ballot. Saratoga County Democratic Committee Chair Todd Kerner said Saratoga County Democrats are “searching for a good candidate as this is a winnable seat that needs good representation.”