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Host: This week, WXXI is looking back at the events and people that made news in 2018.

Today, WXXI's
Juan Vazquez talks with Scott Fybush about the year in political news.

JUAN: Well Scott, it's been a year of change at just about every level of government... and you were here
to cover a lot of these transitions, and a lot of them were triggered by one big event that happened in
March.

“New York Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, the oldest member of Congress and the first
woman to chair the powerful House Rules Committee has died at the age….(fade)”

SF: Hard to forget that day. And even if we all knew Louise wasn’t going to be with us forever, the
question of who would be the heir to her seat went from a political parlor game to an immediate reality.
On the Republican side, Dr. Jim Maxwell had already been planning to run, and he had the field mostly
to himself after Mark Assini decided not to join the race and instead headed off to private life.

JUAN: But on the Democratic side, it got interesting for a while.

SF: Sure did. That four-way primary race kept things busy through the spring. Joe Morelle, Adam
McFadden, Robin Wilt, and Rachel Barnhart all fought it out as much on personality as on policy, and
there were times it got a little bit heated.

“Barnhart: Let’s not slam the door shut on Louise Slaughter’s legacy…Wilt: Monroe County deserves
representation that reflects the diversity of the 25th District…Morelle: I must say, this is the most
important election in the history of our republic….McFadden: We deserve a candidate that believes in
equal pay and not pay to play.”

JUAN: And when Joe Morelle won that primary pretty handily, that triggered a cascade of changes down
the ticket.

SF: And an overall loss of seniority for the area, too. Morelle, of course, was a big part of the Democratic
leadership in the state Assembly. Jamie Romeo went on to win the Democratic primary to replace him,
and then ran unopposed to go to Albany as a first-termer. And that meant the Monroe County
Democratic Committee needed a new leader to replace her - and Brittaney Wells succeeded Romeo
there, and became the first African-American to lead the county party.

JUAN: So what about the Republicans? There was a high-profile Assembly race there, too.

SF: Ah, the 133rd district south of Rochester. Joe Errigo came out of retirement to replace the late Bill
Nojay; he lost his primary to challenger Marjorie Byrnes. And then in October, Errigo was charged with
accepting a bribe to submit a bill that would have affected a local development project. He stayed on
the ballot as a third-party candidate, but it's Byrnes who's now headed to Albany in the assembly
minority. And that bribery issue turned out to be bipartisan - there are also charges against Robert Scott
Gaddy, he’s the Albany lobbyist who's been a big supporter of several local Democrats, including
Assemblyman David Gantt.

JUAN: Fast-forward to November and the general election... and one big change at the state level.
SF: That blue wave nationally swept through Albany, too. Democrats took clear control of the state
Senate. The IDC - that splinter group of moderate downstate Democrats who caucused with Republicans
and gave them control? Nearly all of them lost their seats. But the change in control was mostly driven
from downstate. It was a closer race than in the past for local Republicans in the Senate, but Rich Funke
still beat out challenger Jen Lunsford in the 55th...

“Funke: We both ran a positive campaign. She ran a positive campaign. I want to congratulate her
tonight for doing that…But I’m thankful that I won, that’s for sure.”

...and Joe Robach held on handily in the 56th.

At the top of the ticket, not much drama at all after the primary season, Cynthia Nixon put up a primary
challenge to Governor Andrew Cuomo but she fell short. Cuomo won the general election handily, and
so did US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. And there was more scandal in the state attorney general's office,
where abuse allegations forced Eric Schneiderman to resign in April. Tish James won the Democratic
primary, and she'll become the state's first African-American AG.

JUAN: A lot of history that we’ve gone through so far. So about the House races? There was some drama
and some scandal there, too.

SF: Not so much in the 25th, where Joe Morelle won handily over Jim Maxwell. Republican incumbents
John Katko and Tom Reed won easily, too.
But then there was Chris Collins. In the heavily Republican 27th district, Collins was nearly upended by a
federal indictment on insider trading charges. Nate McMurray, the supervisor of Grand Island, saw an
opening and national Democrats poured money into the seat after Collins decided to stay in the race
and fight it out even though party officials didn’t want him to.

“Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy: we maintained that we definitely had a crystal-
clear avenue to replace Congressman Chris Collins on the ballot, but it’s no longer in the best interest of
his legal team and legal defense.”

JUAN: This seemed to be crazy, and it took a while to sort out...

SF: Sure did. This was the year of the recount nationally, this race was one of the ones that stayed in the
spotlight until the numbers finally pointed to a very narrow win for Collins, and that means we'll have
more drama yet to come as Collins waits it out before his trial in 2020.

JUAN: Alright, so the calendar is about to turn, Scott, look into your crystal ball, what do you see coming
up in 2019?

SF: How about a county executive race? Cheryl Dinolfo comes up for her first re-election bid next year.
She turned down a run for lieutenant governor this year. Republicans have held the county executive
seat since 1992, and she'll try to take that streak into its fourth decade.

JUAN: And some people may think they know who the opponent might be. So we’ll see if it comes to
fruition. Thank you Scott Fybush, WXXI's Scott Fybush with a look back at the year in politics.