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Lunsford hops out of state Senate race to chase Assembly seat

Jen Lunsford
Jen Lunsford

A Democratic candidate for the New York State Senate is switching races and is now eyeing an Assembly seat. 

Jen Lunsford is suspending her campaign for the 55th District Senate seat and is now running against Republican Mark Johns in the 135th Assembly District. The switch was a surprise to many, including Johns.

“I expected a challenger, but everybody thought she was running for the Senate seat, so something behind the scenes went on,” said Johns. “But I welcome whoever the challenger might be. Maybe they’ll have a primary, who knows?”

Lunsford said she made this decision to avoid a primary with Samra Brouk for the Senate seat. 

“If I can be of service to the community in a way that helps elect more Democrats, more Democrat women, and broaden the coalition on the east side of Monroe County, then that’s what I’ll do,” said Lunsford. “I always want to lift women up. I think moving forward, we’d end up in a resource-draining primary that I don’t think is necessary.” 

In 2018, Lunsford unsuccessfully challenged Rich Funke, who currently holds the Senate seat. Funke is 

Assemblyman Mark Johns
Credit Provided
Assemblyman Mark Johns

retiring and won’t be seeking re-election.

In the Democratic-dominated Assembly, Lunsford said, having a representative in the majority party will help the district. But Johns, who calls himself an "independent-minded Republican," disagreed.

“I vote with the other side more than any other Republican," Johns said. "And therefore, I’m as nonpartisan as you can be. I talk about ideas, not party politics.”

Whoever wins will represent a deeply divided district that covers Fairport, Webster, and Penfield. The Monroe County Board of Elections said the district has less than 1,000 more registered Republicans (34,386) than Democrats (33,665) as well as 26,000 registered voters with no party affiliation. 

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.
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