Rachel May

WRVO News

Central New York Democratic State Sen. Dave Valesky, first elected in 2004, was one of six members of the former Independent Democratic Conference to lose in primaries this year. That has opened the 53rd Senate District seat up to Democrat Rachel May, who defeated Valesky, and Republican Janet Burman, both of whom live in Syracuse. The winner will move the district from the center to either a more progressive or conservative ideology.

WRVO News

The upcoming midterm elections are the most closely watched midterms in at least a generation. In New York, control of the state Senate hangs in the balance. Republicans hold a slim one seat majority in the chamber, and one race could flip control of the Senate to the Democrats. This week, Grant Reeher moderates a debate between the two candidates running in the 53rd District: Democrat Rachel May, who defeated 7 term incumbent Dave Valesky in a September primary, and Republican Janet Burman. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

Rachel May has defeated longtime incumbent state Sen. Dave Valesky in a primary and will be the Democratic nominee in the race for the 53rd state Senate District in November. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

If voter turnout is any indication, last week’s primary race in central New York could mean a more active electorate is in the making. 

Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny estimates 24 to 25 percent of registered Democrats came out to the polls in Thursday’s state and local primary. That’s a lot more than usual for a state and local election.

"It was 8 percent in 2014, 8.6 percent the last time we had a governor’s primary," said Czarny. "So to have 24 percent in Onondaga County is incredible.”

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

In what could be a stunning victory, Democratic challenger Rachel May leads incumbent state Sen. Dave Valesky by 600 votes in Thursday’s Democratic primary election in the 53rd State Senate District. May did not declare victory Thursday, and Valesky did not concede. 

WRVO Public Media

Across the country, Democratic Party primaries have generated a lot of attention, enthusiasm and some surprising results. Primaries in New York have figured in this trend. This week, host Grant Reeher moderates a debate between the two candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in central New York's 53rd state Senate district, incumbent Sen. Dave Valesky and challenger Rachel May. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

As the New York State Fair gets underway, immigration rights advocates are calling attention to the need for undocumented farm workers to be able to drive. Undocumented workers are currently barred from obtaining a driver’s license. 

Tom Fazzio / Syracuse University

Across the country, mainstream Congressional Democrats are being challenged in primaries by more progressive, grassroots-supported candidates. It's also happening in state and local races. This week, Grant Reeher talks with Rachel May, who is challenging central New York state Senator Dave Valesky (D-Oneida) in a primary this September. 

Note: This conversation was recorded June 5, one day after the Oneida County Democratic Committee endorsed May in her race with Sen. Valesky.