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Rachel May declared the winner over Dave Valesky in CNY state Senate primary

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)
Democratic state Senate candidate Rachel May, left, watches election returns on primary night

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. 

Absentee ballots were counted Thursday in the district, which covers parts of Madison, Oneida and Onondaga Counties, including most of the city of Syracuse. 

After the primary last Thursday, May led Valesky by about 600 votes. May did not declare victory and Valesky did not concede, with both saying they wanted to wait for absentee ballots to be counted. May also won a majority of the absentee ballots, making her the winner of the race. 

Valesky released a statement Thursday afternoon congratulating May. 

“Now that all the votes have been counted, I congratulate Rachel May on her win in the Democratic primary. Ms. May and her supporters deserve credit for their hard work and tireless advocacy on behalf of progressive causes,” he said.

May will face Republican Janet Burman in the general election in November, but Valesky will still appear on the ballot, on the Independence and Working Families party lines. He said Thursday he hasn’t decided whether or not to actively campaign.

“Since last week’s primary, countless individuals have urged me to actively campaign as an independent. Out of respect for them, I will take some time to consider all options going forward,” he said.

Valesky was first elected to the Senate in 2004. In 2011, he joined a group of breakaway Democrats in the Senate, known as the Independent Democratic Conference. The group caucused with Republicans, but disbanded earlier this year. He becomes the sixth out of eight former members of the IDC to lose their primary this year.

Jason has served as WRVO's news director in some capacity since August 2017. As news director, Jason produces hourly newscasts, and helps direct local news coverage and special programming. Before that, Jason hosted Morning Edition on WRVO from 2009-2019. Jason came to WRVO in January of 2008 as a producer/reporter. Before that, he spent two years as an anchor/reporter at WSYR Radio in Syracuse.