There are only 10 days left before Republican voters will decide who will represent them in New York's 115th Assembly District, and their decision may well determine the winner.
Republican incumbent Janet Duprey, also the Independence Party candidate, will face off against Karen Bisso, also the Conservative Party candidate, during the Sept. 9 Republican primary. It's the second time the two candidates have met in an election. Duprey won easily in 2012 with a Democrat candidate also in the mix. However, this time there is no Democrat or third-party candidate running. Voters have two clear choices.
'A real race'
Franklin County Republican Committee Chairman Ray Scollin said the question is whether Duprey can make it through the primary.
"It's my understanding that this was not a walk-away by either candidate," Scollin said. "This was a competitive endorsement process; there were supporters for Bisso and Duprey. ... It's going to be a real race."
Scollin said Bisso has "matured as a candidate" from her fiery manner in 2012.
"I think we are seeing a more thoughtful candidate," Scollin said, "somebody who is not trying to come in here with guns blazing, and I think she has been very effective in that new approach."
Scollin said Duprey has shown bipartisan support, which could be her ticket to re-election.
"She has been supported by Democrats and Republicans alike, and I think that has been an advantage for at least the last two terms," Scollin said.
Alicia Sirk, Bisso's campaign chairwoman in 2012 who now chairs the Clinton County Young Republicans, said the group does not endorse candidates but she is personally supporting Bisso. Sirk said individual members of the group support both women. Last week Bisso visited the group and discussed issues with them.
The Republican committees of both Franklin and Clinton counties endorsed Duprey. The incumbent also has endorsements from some business groups like Unshackle Upstate and the National Federation of Independent Business, and from unions including the New York State United Teachers, Service Employees International Union and the state's American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.
Bisso has received a statement of support from congressional candidate Elise Stefanik and endorsements from the Franklin and St. Lawrence County Conservative committees, New York State Right to Life, former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long and Sheriff Richard Mack from Arizona.
Last push before primary
Campaigning has ramped up for both candidates in the last few weeks. Signs are posted across the district, letters to the editor have been sent, and supporters continue to push for their respective candidate.
"Really busy," Duprey described the campaigning. "It's getting down to the wire. ... I'm going to do as much as I can, see as many people as I can."
Bisso has plans to visit board meetings for all 37 municipalities in the district before the general election. Most of those municipalities are towns, and three are the district's counties: Clinton, Franklin and St. Lawrence. She's already close to reaching that goal. At the Harrietstown Town Council meeting Thursday, she said it was her 26th.
"My reason for going to the town council meetings was to connect the dots and find the common threads between the communities," Bisso said. "I got a really good flavor of every town I visited in the district."
Both candidates told the Enterprise they will fight it out until the general election, even if they lose the Republican primary.
"I expect to win the primary," Duprey said. "I'm going to be on the Independence line, and I certainly feel that I have a lot of strong independent and Democrat support."
"I cannot endorse Janet if I lose the primary," Bisso said. "The Conservative Party had me sign a statement which states that I promise to remain in the race until November 4th. I will honor that signature."