Metzger launches campaign for Bonacic’s Senate seat (updated)

Rosendale Councilwoman Jen Metzger declared her candidacy for New York’s 42 Senate District on Wednesday, rolling out endorsements from Democratic leaders and elected officials in what is now a two-way Democratic competition to take on Republican Sen. John Bonacic.

Metzger, who had signaled her interest a month earlier by opening a campaign account and announcing that she was exploring a Senate run, affirmed her campaign plans on Wednesday, and has lined up endorsements and words of praise from the Democratic leaders of Ulster and Sullivan counties and a litany of Democratic officials, including Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and assemblymen Kevin Cahill and James Skoufis.

“I’m done waiting for our state legislators to do their jobs,” Metzger said in an interview, listing several longstanding pieces of legislation that Senate Republicans have blocked. She said her priorities in Albany would include reforming the state’s “broken” school-funding system, accelerating the shift to renewable energy from fossil fuels, making health care more affordable, and enacting stalled anti-corruption bills.

Pramilla Malick, the environmental activist from Minisink who has led opposition to the Competitive Power Ventures plant in Wawayanda and ran against Bonacic two years ago, announced this month that she plans to run again for the 42nd Senate District. She and Metzger would compete in a Sept. 13 Democratic primary if both of them stay in the race.

Metzger, a 53-year-old mother of three, has lived in Rosendale for 17 years and was elected to a second term on the Town Board in November. She is the director of Citizens for Local Power, a nonprofit that she helped form five years ago and that advocates for renewable energy and acts as a utility watchdog. Her group is currently fighting to reduce Central Hudson’s electricity rates.

Among those to endorse her is Zephyr Teachout, the Democrat who challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a primary in 2014 and ran for New York’s 19th Congressional District seat in 2016. “Jen is a fearless, committed, funny, smart, and compassionate community leader,” Teachout said in Metzger’s press release. “I’ve known her for years, and she gets impossible things done with the kind of public spirit we need more of. She knows her own values, but also knows how to listen to people she disagrees with.”

The 42nd District, which includes parts of Orange, Ulster and Delaware counties and all of Sullivan, has a Democratic enrollment edge, and about half of its Democratic voters are in Orange.

Bonacic, a 75-year-old Mount Hope Republican, has been a senator for almost 20 years. He had $720,000 in his campaign account in January and has given no indication he will retire, but hasn’t officially announced his re-election plans.

UPDATE: Malick issued a statement on Wednesday about her Senate campaign and endorsements.

“While our people powered campaign has been gearing up, with the Percoco trial and toxic assault by CPV my priority has been addressing the immediate needs of our communities,” she wrote.  “I did recently propose to Jen Metzger that we run endorsement free campaigns to offer voters an election based solely on our ideas and record, rather than political gamesmanship. With the infiltration of big monied interests in every sector of society this would have cultivated a more transparent and novel democratic paradigm. Unfortunately she declined; though the offer still stands.” She said she does have endorsements from groups such as Protect NY Kids and public figures such as Josh Fox, Dennis Kucinich and James Cromwell, and expects to win “the one that matters most on Sept. 13” – the “endorsement of the people.”

She provided this endorsement from Fox, the environmental activist who created the 2010 documentary “Gasland” about natural-gas fracking and the harmful effects of its contamination of drinking water: “Pramilla Malick is a genuine fighter for the people and the planet. She cares deeply about public health, the environment and justice. She’s been at the forefront of the fight to protect our communities from fracking and fracked gas power plants. She knows that we need to move quickly if we are to slow down climate change. She would be a tireless advocate for the people and shake up Albany.”

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