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In 25th Congressional District, Joe Morelle wins reelection over La'Ron Singletary

Composite photo of candidates
Photos provided
Joe Morelle, left, and La'Ron Singletary.

Democrat Joe Morelle has been elected to serve a third term representing the 25th Congressional District.

Morelle pulled in roughly 53% of the vote compared to the 46% received by his Republican opponent, former Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, according to unofficial results.

The 25th District covers all of Monroe County as well as towns in northern Orleans County. Due to technical issues, Monroe County elections officials couldn’t report results for the race — and many others — until the early hours of Wednesday. The scenario lent additional drama and confusion to a race that had already captured widespread local, state, and national attention

"Honestly, I believe from the very beginning, this was going to be a close race,” Morelle said as final vote numbers began to trickle in early Wednesday. “Look, you know, law enforcement, people who served in law enforcement … I have a lot of respect for them. I knew that meant that there were going to be a lot of people attracted to Mr. Singletary's candidacy."

Singletary initially refused to concede and vowed to challenge the results of the election. He questioned, without evidence, the validity of ballots.

Technical issues at the Board of Elections did lead to a sluggish rollout of results on election night. At a Wednesday news conference, Republican Monroe County Board of Elections Commissioner Lisa Nicolay said the results are valid.

"The results are not in question," said Nicolay, who added that she supported and voted for Singletary. "We can't be any clearer, the results are not in question."

By midday Wednesday, Singletary had conceded. A statement from his campaign indicated that his decision to concede "was made after the Monroe County Board of Elections provided information detailing the results of the election."

Morelle has had a long career in local politics, rising to become one of the most influential figures in the local and state party. Singletary, the embattled former Rochester police chief, ran on a "tough on crime" message and sought to portray Morelle as out of touch with his district.

Morelle has held the seat since 2018, a position he was elected to after a nearly 30-year career in the state Assembly. He’s legislated in an increasingly polarized political landscape and has said that he believes that division, illustrated sharply by a rejection of the 2020 presidential election by many Republicans, is a threat to democracy.

On the issues, he’s a moderate, at least in the current national political landscape. He has supported much of President Joe Biden’s agenda. He has been a proponent of banning semi-automatic rifles and large-capacity magazines, and he backed the Biden administration’s plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt.

Morelle is also a cosponsor of a bill by Rep. Joseph Courtney, a Democrat from Connecticut, which proposes to fix student loan interest rates at 0 percent.

Singletary had never pursued elected office before, but as a Rochester police chief, he had a high public profile. He rose to greater prominence over the death of Daniel Prude in 2020. Singletary, then just a year on the job, resigned in the fallout from the release of police body-worn camera footage of Prude’s arrest. Before he could depart, though, he was fired by former Mayor Lovely Warren.

On gun control, Singletary emphasized the right for Americans to protect themselves and pointed out that minorities are more likely to be denied access to firearms. When pushed on his position on specific measures, like the banning of bump stocks, he said that should be viewed on a case-by-case basis and that one has to “look at the individual.”

Singletary has also described himself as “pro-life,” and has said that he wants policies that help women, particularly Black women, make decisions that they “don’t feel they were forced into.” He did not comment directly on if he supports the right to abortion.

Includes reporting from Brian Sharp and Veronica Volk.

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Jeremy Moule is a deputy editor with WXXI News. He also covers Monroe County.
Gino Fanelli covers City Hall for CITY and WXXI News. He came to CITY as a reporter in 2019 by way of the Rochester Business Journal, and formerly served as a watchdog reporter for Gannett in Maryland and a stringer for the Associated Press.
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