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Finley looks back on GOP congressional campaign

Russ Finley (Photo provided)

Former Republican congressional candidate Russell Finley is happy to be out of the political game, for now.

“I’m cleansing my soul, actually doing something of value to the community,” Finley said. “I’m wearing a hard hat. Traded my briefcase in for a lunch pail.”

Since his campaign ended in April, when he did not file his petition signatures with the state Board of Election by the deadline, he has spent more time tending to his 60 head of cattle and working in steel frame construction, building a $12 million expansion for a Corning factory in Canton.

The cattle rancher and seven-time U.S. bobsled team member from Lisbon challenged incumbent Rep. Elise Stefanik with little staff and no substantial backing from his party.

“I’m just so disgusted with the Republican Party,” Finley said.

Finley said he had enough petition signatures to be on the primary ballot but started getting calls from people saying he could not use their signatures anymore.

“The party went around to all the committee people and said that anybody who has signed Russ Finley’s petition form is going to get charged with disloyalty and they’re going to get removed from the party.”

He said he lost 214 signatures, dropping his total to 1,170, lower than the 1,250 needed.

Finley said he would not give names of people who recanted their signatures because he does not want to “out” them and get them removed from the party.

“After it’s over there’s like this void where you keep blaming yourself,” Finley said.

He said he came to accept that he had done his best and stood on his morals in the campaign.

For a while he managed Patrick Vincent’s primary campaign in New York’s 118th Assembly District against Republican Robert Smullen. Vincent lost the primary, and Finley blamed the Fulton County Republican committee.

Finley said the state Republican Party needs to replace every county chair and purge itself of RINOs (Republicans in Name Only), which he considers Stefanik to be.

“At the end of the day, Elise is still a Democrat in my eyes,” Finley said.

Finley says he will not vote in the NY-21 election Nov 6.

“The whole thing was orchestrated,” Finley said. “Tedra was always going to be the candidate. She was chosen nine months to a year before she even announced.”

His evidence? Tedra lives in the same county as former state Democratic Party chair June O’Neill.

This was one of many speculative, unsupported theories Finley aired in the interview.

“It’s so good to be a construction worker because now I can just take my filter off and say what needs to be said,” Finley said.

Finley predicted that Stefanik will win because he said Cobb is just running on single-payer health care.

“Everybody you talk to knows that single-payer is a disaster,” Finley said. “I mean, yeah, there’s that 20-25 percent fringe left that say it’s the way to go, but the vast majority of people know it’s a disaster.”

Finley said he liked campaigning, specifically the debates. With the exception of the People’s Forum for New York’s 21st Congressional District in Plattsburgh, he felt he was respected while sharing the stage with nine Democratic candidates.

“I learned it is possible for conservatives to have a conversation with liberals without offending each other,” Finley said.

When asked if he would consider running for office again, he said, “Let’s just say I have 150 campaign signs sitting in my barn.”

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