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Assemblywoman Janet Duprey survived a three-way primary, in part due to strong support in Franklin County. Photo: Mark Kurtz
Assemblywoman Janet Duprey survived a three-way primary, in part due to strong support in Franklin County. Photo: Mark Kurtz

Duprey survives fierce primary challenge

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It was a nail-biter night yesterday for Republican lawmakers who supported same-sex marriage in last year's historic vote in Albany.

From the North Country to Saratoga County to Poughkeepsie, moderate Republicans faced challenges from more conservative candidates -- and a backlash from some conservative voters.

One of the hardest-fought races was in the 115th Assembly district, where Assemblywoman Janet Duprey appears to won a narrow victory. Brian Mann has our story.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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At first blush, it looks like Janet Duprey won handily, picking up nearly a third more voters than her nearest rival, challenger Karen Bisso, a school teacher from Plattsburgh.

But Duprey's two conservative challengers, Bisso and David Kimmel from Cadyville actually won more votes overall than Duprey — who blamed the lackluster outcome on low turnout.

Unofficial results:
Duprey 1403
Bisso 916
kimmel 596

"I really think there was a lot of complacency," Duprey said.  "And listen, anything can happen in a three way race."

But speaking last night Bisso painted the results very differently, arguing that Duprey is clearly vulnerable in the general election this November.  Bisso will appear on the ballot again on the Conservative Party  line.

Karen Bisso will face Duprey again in November, this time on the Conservative Party line.
Karen Bisso will face Duprey again in November, this time on the Conservative Party line.
"We needed to find out how vulnerable she ways...and that was clear this evening," Bisso said.  "She's vulnerable and that's exactly where we thought she was."

Bisso says the protest vote against Duprey was sparked in large measure by the Republican's support of same-sex marriage, which was legalized in New York thanks in part to the votes of GOP moderates.

"Everywhere I went, if somebody came to me and said to me and said, 'I'm not for Assemblywoman Duprey,' 95% of them the issue for them was same sex marriage."

Bisso says she believes legal marriage should be limited to unions between men and women.

It's unclear how vulnerable Duprey will be in the fall.  Tim Carpenter, a city councilman from Plattsburgh, has announced that he'll run on the Democratic Party line — which mean that Duprey could once again face a three-way contest. 

But so far, Carpenter hasn't campaigned actively and doesn't even appear to have a website.  Speaking last night, Duprey said she was confident that she would win a lot of Democratic votes to propel her to victory.

"I have a lot of bipartisan support," Duprey said.  "I feel comfortable that I'll win the victory in November by a wider margin that I won the primary."

Duprey did acknowledge, however, that the three-way race sparked uncertainty and "anxiety."

In last night's voting, Duprey polled strongest in Franklin County and Bisso fared well in eastern St. Lawrence County, where she actually won more votes than Duprey.

The big fight here in the North Country was echoed in Saratoga and Washington counties, where veteran Republican state Senator Roy McDonald faced a challenge from conservative Kathy Marchione — who also blasted McDonald for voting in favor of same-sex marriage. 

That race is still too close to call, with more than a thousand absentee ballots outstanding.

A third Republican lawmakers who supported gay marriage, Stephen Saland from Poughkeepsie, is also locked in a race that's considered too close to call. 

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