WXXI AM News

Nojay's Primary Win Not a Surprise, Says Political Analyst

Sep 14, 2016

Tuesday's primary election win by Assemblyman Bill Nojay just days after his death by suicide has drawn national attention.

But some local political observers say it is not surprising that a popular incumbent who was endorsed by his party even after his death won the race by a 60 to 39 percent margin.

"Probably many people before his death on Friday intended to vote for him, and probably did not know much about the other candidates," said Jeff Koch, chairman of the political science and international relations department at SUNY Geneseo. 

Nojay's defeat of challenger Rick Milne coupled with a quirk in state election law means that Republican party chairmen from Monroe, Livingston and Steuben Counties get to pick someone to take on Democrat Barbara Baer in November.

Milne says he disappointed but hopes the leaders will tap him when they meet tonight in Geneseo.

“We ran a very clean and very solid campaign and everything unfortunately was, everything changed at the end of last week,” he said. “There were some powers that be if you will that really pushed to swing the vote and it is what it is.”

Local GOP leaders encouraged voters to cast their ballots for Nojay has a tribute to his memory.

Koch said most voters probably understood that by voting for Nojay, they were handing their power back to the party bosses.

"Most of the people who are going to turn out in primaries are pretty strong partisans; they're pretty strong Republicans who generally are pretty comfortable having a group of party elites having a say over it,” he said. “I don't think there was much unhappiness about it; I'm sure there was a little bit of grumbling about it."

Voters in Livingston County made the difference for Nojay’s win in the sprawling 138th Assembly district. Monroe County voters gave the edge to Rick Milne.