Candidates who may have once thought Republican Sen. Tom Libous too entrenched and well-funded to be defeated in a state senate race are reconsidering, after a witness in Federal court testified Libous behaved unethically in procuring a job for his son at a law firm.
The most recent candidate to consider challenging Libous is Barrett Esworthy, a 36-year-old college professor, who joins Binghamton mayor Matt Ryan and former public schoolteacher John Orzel as potential Democratic challengers to the 12-term state senator.
Esworthy, who teaches history at Tompkins Cortland Community College and has never run for office before, said the reason he wants to run against Libous is simple.
“Because Tom Libous is vulnerable,” he said.
“You’re likely aware of the recent allegations against him,” he said, referencing the recent trial of Yonkers City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi and Yonkers Republican Committee Chairman Zehy Jereis.
A witness for the prosecution named Anthony Mangone testified during the trial that Libous had traded on his Senate seat to procure a job for his son at Mangone’s law firm.
Libous denied Mangone’s testimony was accurate.
But the shadow of doubt has helped draw candidates out of the woodwork.
“This year, there is a renewed interest throughout the Southern Tier in electing a Democrat to the 52nd Senate District and we have been approached by a number of credible potential candidates,” said Senate Democrat Campaign Committee executive director Josh Cherwin.
Cherwin and Esworthy both thought the issue of hydrofracking, an energy extraction procedure Libous supports, would polarize the district’s voters and increase independent turnout in the fall elections.
“It’s very big in this area,” Esworthy said. “This district is at the epicenter of the whole debate.”
A spokesman for Sen. Libous did not immediately return a request for comment.
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