Assemblyman James Skoufis said Thursday that he had taken the first step toward a possible run for the state Senate seat Bill Larkin holds by filing papers with the state Board of Elections to form a campaign fundraising committee for the 39th Senate District.
“I’m very seriously considering my options for this year,” said the Woodbury Democrat, a second-term assemblyman. “Creating a committee is the next step in the process. It allows me to raise money for a Senate run.”
Skoufis, who has said previously that Democrats have urged him to run for Senate, said he is still undecided and has set no deadline for himself. He said he must gauge the interest and support of voters, community leaders and elected officials in his potential candidacy, which includes “making sure the resources will be there should I decide to run.” Other factors will be whether Democrats are likely to wrest the Senate majority from Republicans this year and which presidential candidates will likely be at the top of New York’s ballots in November, he said.
No filing deadline is imminent. Candidates for Assembly and Senate begin collecting signatures on June 7 and must submit their petitions by July 14.
Larkin, R-Cornwall-on-Hudson, has been a senator for 25 years and was an assemblyman for 12 years before then. The 88-year-old lawmaker has made no formal announcement about seeking another term in November, but he has a campaign website (www.larkin2016.com) and a twice-postponed fundraiser now scheduled for March 24 in Rockland County.
The 39th Senate District consists of 10 towns and the City of Newburgh in Orange County and two towns each in Ulster and Rockland. It has a Democratic voter-enrollment edge and could be a key contest in this year’s battle for control of the closely divided Senate.
Update: Scott Reif, a spokesman for the Senate Republicans, issued the following response to this blog post: ”Professional politician James Skoufis votes in lock step vote with the New York City liberals who support taxpayer funded political campaigns, shifting more school aid to New York City and providing free college tuition to illegal immigrants. Skoufis is a terrible fit for this Senate district because he is hopelessly out of touch with middle class Hudson Valley families.”
Another update: In a statement issued by his spokesman, Larkin accused Skoufis of breaking his word not to run against him, something he said two of them discussed in a meeting last April. ”He stated that as long as I was the Senator he would not run against me. I’m not concerned with whether or not the Assemblyman wants to run for State Senate. My question based on previous statements would be is he willing to endorse me for re-election? What matters most to me is that the people of the 39th Senate District have a representative who serves with honesty and integrity. Assemblyman Skoufis needs to decide if he is going to be a man of his word or just another professional politician who says one thing and does another.”
Skoufis issued this response: ”This Senate seat belongs to the people of the 39th Senate District and not one specific politician. After nearly four decades in Albany, Senator Larkin is playing the kind of political games that Hudson Valley voters are sick and tired of. As I have said all along, my concern is making sure that people have the representation they deserve in the Senate and therefore I’m seriously considering a run for this seat. The feedback thus far has been very positive and people are demanding change to Albany’s broken status quo.”
And Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats, flipped the “man of his word” line back at Larkin, noting that the senator had declared in 2012 that he would not run again for re-election after that year’s race. Larkin had told Gannett’s Albany bureau at the time, “This is going to be my last hurrah, ” and went on to say that at “86 years old, let someone else try it.”
Murphy said: ”Maybe Bill Larkin has forgotten that 4 years ago he said he would not run again. I suggest he take his own advice and be a man of his word.”