Allegany County Board chair calls Borrello 'handpicked candidate' in 57th Senate District race

The Republican race to elect the next New York state senator in the Southern Tier is starting to resemble an episode of "Family Feud."

A Republican running in a primary next week to succeed retired state Sen. Cathy Young is lashing out at the GOP Senate leader and the Senate GOP Campaign Committee for supporting his opponent in the intra-party contest.

Curtis W. Crandall, chairman of the Allegany County Board of Legislators, will face George Borrello, the Chautauqua County executive, in next Tuesday’s Republican primary for the 57th District Senate seat.

The district was previously represented by Republican Cathy Young of Olean, who stepped down from the Senate earlier this year to become director of the New York State Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva.

Following the 2018 New York state Senate election that cost Republicans control of the chamber, Young sought to become the Republican minority leader, but she was defeated by Sen. John J. Flanagan.

Following Flanagan’s win in the party leadership race, Young was replaced as head of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee by state Sen. Fred Akshar. She was also denied the top GOP seat on the Senate Finance Committee, with Sen. Jim Seward taking over as ranking member of the committee.

In a press release on Monday, Crandall said, “It appears to me that Flanagan has handpicked a candidate from the far northwestern corner of the 57th Senate District. Voters in the 57th District will recall that Mr. Flanagan was the main reason Cathy Young left her position as senator, and he was one of the few Republican senators who voted for the SAFE Act, enabling its passage.”

Crandall said by accepting the minority leader’s endorsement, Borrello has compromised his independence should he be elected in November from the heavily Republican-leaning district. Crandall cited several instances of financial and logistical support from the Senate Republican Campaign Committee to benefit Borrello.

“I feel that my opponent Mr. Borrello, if elected, will be obligated to ‘Team Flanagan,’ despite his advertisements paid for by ‘Team Flanagan’ that say otherwise. Mr. Borrello’s claims can only be labelled hypocritical in light of the major support obtained from the Albany folks,” Crandall said.

Borrello, who was elected Chautauqua County executive in 2017, is the endorsed candidate of the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties.

The 57th Senate district includes all of Chautauqua County, Cattaraugus County and Allegany County, as well as seven towns in Livingston County

Crandall said he has written Flanagan, asking why “the New York Senate Republican Campaign Committee would single out a specific candidate such as Mr. Borrello and expend this much time, effort, and funds” in the primary race.

The letter has gone unanswered, Crandall said.

Crandall, a Belfast resident and District I legislator, said his campaign is boosted by a wide swath of Republican voters, not Albany insiders.

“My well established campaign committee, made up of hundreds of Republican volunteers, friends, and members of Republican committees in the 57th Senate District are not pleased to see that Mr. Borrello is being directly sponsored and funded by Mr. Flanagan’s Senate Campaign Committee, and that workers from other counties have been imported to gain petition signatures for him,” Crandall said in Monday’s statement. “If I am elected, my obligation is to you, the people of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, and Livingston counties and what is best for the 57th Senate District. Your efforts put me on the ballot, and on June 25, your votes can send a clear message to what’s left of the Republican leadership in the state Senate that the Republicans of the 57th District refuse to be bullied."

Republican primary voting in the 57th Senate District will take place from noon-9 p.m., June 25.