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Ritchie announces retirement from NY Senate; Walczyk, Doheny declare candidacy

Payne Horning
WRVO News file photo

State Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton) announced Wednesday that she will not seek reelection and will retire when her term ends at the end of this year. Ritchie was first elected to the 48th state Senate district in 2010 after serving as St. Lawrence County Clerk for a decade.

“This is a decision I did not arrive at lightly,” Ritchie said in a statement. “However, it is the right one for my family and I. Next month will mark 36 years of public service for me and while words cannot express how much I will miss the work I do, I look forward to being able to spend more time with my family—including my husband who retired a year ago, my children and my grandchildren.”

Not long after Ritchie’s announcement, North Country Assemblyman Mark Walczyk (R-Watertown) announced that he would run for the seat, which has been expanded due to redistricting. The new 50th district includes all of Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, and Franklin counties, and a portion of Herkimer County.

Shortly after Walczyk’s announcement, he was endorsed by North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville).

"I am honored to endorse Assemblyman Mark Walczyk to serve as the next North Country State Senator,” said Stefanik in a statement. “Mark is the only candidate who has fought for the North Country in Albany standing up against the Far-Left Democrat rule that has destroyed New York State.”

But Ritchie is not endorsing Walczyk in the race. She is throwing her support behind Matt Doheny, a Republican who also announced his candidacy following Ritchie’s announcement.

“Matt is a successful businessman who knows the district, especially the new counties it will encompass,” Ritchie said in a statement. “I’m confident he will use his knowledge, skill set and experience to help the entire North Country reach new heights. I look forward to supporting his campaign and am confident he will give 110% when it comes to representing the North Country and its residents.”

Doheny has run for Congress in the North Country three times. He lost to Democrat Bill Owens in 2010 by about 5% and lost to Owens again in 2012 by less than 2%. In 2014, he lost to Stefanik in the GOP primary.

In her endorsement of Walczyk, Stefanik had some thoughts about her former opponent.

“Mark is the ONLY candidate who has actually won an election in this region,” Stefanik said. “Now is not the time for a failed three time loser who has sat on the sidelines silent for years against the failed Far-Left policies in New York.”

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.