For Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk, 50, a third-generation farmer and first-time politician, the task is daunting against George Amedore, a veteran Republican assemblyman and home builder. He had been considered a sure thing for Republicans under their redistricting plan, which carefully drew the Senate's 63rd seat that snakes from Montgomery County to Ulster County.
Yet, the 46th District Senate seat has drawn little political or media attention since Amedore announced his Senate bid in the spring. And Democrats see a burst of support in Ulster County, which accounts for about a third of the district's voters. The battleground also has more Democratic voters and the party says Tkaczyk may pull the biggest upset on Election Day.
Democrats back up their optimism with some unusual circumstances: The other two-thirds of the 46th Senate District are new to both candidates and the district has about 10,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, a reflection of how hard it is draw GOP-dominated districts in New York. Tkaczyk is also making an issue of how there are just nine women in the current 62-seat Senate, and Democratic women voters are expected to turn out big for an election where President Obama leads the ticket and women's issues have recently surged to the fore.
"There's an uncertainty factor," said Steven Greenberg of the Siena College poll. "But it has more of a feel of an incumbent running because it was drawn by the Republicans for Amedore and you have an assemblyman running against a political neophyte. That said, if the Democrats have the resources to compete, they can certainly have the potential to make it interesting."