Dennis Tarantino didn’t respond to a request for comment on this story, and he told the Post Star newspaper he won’t discuss his candidacy until he makes formal announcement later this week. However, Sue Montgomery-Corey, the chairwoman of the Essex County Democratic Committee, says Tarantino will be a terrific candidate.
“I worked with him when he ran for the Assembly several years ago,” Montgomery-Corey said. “It was his first race as a candidate, and my first race as a county chair. It was very fun to work with him. He’s a smart, interesting guy, and he really likes people and cares about them, and that comes across when he’s out there meeting people.”
Teresa Sayward easily defeated Tarantino in the 2004 Assembly race. In 2009, he was among 30 or so Democrats who expressed interest in running for New York’s 20th Congressional District after Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the U.S. Senate. Scott Murphy became the party’s eventual nominee and went on to beat Assemblyman Jim Tedisco in the general election.
Montgomery-Corey says she expects the upcoming Assembly race to be a good one and said, “I think it’s a race where you have two smart, personable guys running, and I think it’ll be an interesting race, and a challenging one."
As many as six Republicans expressed interest in running before county committees settled on Dan Stec. Jay town Supervisor Randy Douglas, who chairs the Essex County Board of Supervisors, was a popular choice among Democrats, but he decided to stay out of the race and concentrate on town and county issues.
Montgomery-Corey says several other potential Democratic candidates were vetted before her committee endorsed Tarantino. “We talked with them and wanted to make sure they understood what it really takes to run a race like this,” she said. “Dennis is in a really good position that way because he’s run one before. He understands what it takes to make a campaign work and he understands what it takes to engage people. I think that made him, in my eyes, a very strong, credible candidate early on.”
Stec is supervisor of the town of Queensbury and chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors. Last week, Stec picked up endorsements from 12 of his Republican colleagues on the Warren County board. He’s also been endorsed by the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties. He says he welcomes Tarantino’s candidacy. “I think it’s a good thing that the Democrats were able to identify a candidate,” Stec said. “I think it’s good for voters to have somebody representing both of the major parties on the ballot in November.”
The 113th Assembly District is currently represented by Republican Teresa Sayward, who will retire at the year’s end to spend more time with her family. It will become the 114th District next year, and its shape will change slightly to include all of Warren and Essex counties and parts of Washington and Saratoga counties.