Jennifer Whalen, a Republican small business owner who nearly ousted Democratic Assemblyman Bob Reilly two years ago, is gearing up for another run in his redrawn capital region district, now that Reilly has announced he is retiring.
“I’m leaning toward running against very strongly, because I don’t think anything has changed that much,” said Whalen, who is from Colonie. “My message and experience definitely resonated last time, so I’m eager to get in there and try to really make a difference more quickly than the way things are going now.”
In 2010, Reilly eked out a win over Whalen with only a 561-vote margin, or about one percentage point.
Last week, Reilly announced he would not run for re-election. Democrats Kevin Frazier, a staffer to Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari, and Phil Steck, an Albany County legislator, have expressed an interest in running for the open seat.
Whalen, a 45-year-old former assistant attorney general who now owns a real estate brokerage company, said her goal is to make New York more business-friendly and warned that her potential Democratic opponents would raise taxes.
While Whalen won’t face an incumbent this time around, she said redistricting had resulted in lines that were more favorable to Democrats.
Reilly’s 109th Assembly District is set to lose Clifton Park and Halfmoon, where Whalen outperformed Reilly in the last election. It will become the new 110th Assembly District, keeping Colonie and adding Niskayuna and part of Schenectady.
“We’re all capital region residents and our issues are pretty much the same,” Whalen said. “My feeling is they can put me in East Timbuktu for all I care.”
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