Smullen claims victory in State Assembly primary

JOHNSTOWN — Retired Marine Corps colonel Robert J. Smullen of the town of Johnstown — who was arrested this summer over a property tax issue — beat challenger Patrick Vincent in Thursday’s Republican primary for state Assembly.

According to unofficial numbers from the state Board of Elections, Smullen defeated Cold Brook businessman Vincent by 4,145 to 2,999. The margin of victory was 55.8 percent for Smullen and 40.3 percent for Vincent across the five-county 118th state Assembly District.

The candidates are trying to capture a two-year term to replace retiring state Assemblyman Marc W. Butler, R-Newport, starting in 2019.

Smullen could become the first state Assembly member from Fulton County since the late, longtime Republican Assemblyman Glenn H. Harris of Gloversville, who retired in 1991.

In Fulton County, it was a huge night for locally GOP-backed Smullen, who secured a 2,695 to 1,143 Republican victory. That translated to Smullen beating Vincent by 66.2 percent to Vincent’s 28 percent in Fulton County.

Vincent did enjoy an 1,142 to 485 Republican victory in his home base of Herkimer County, but when it was all done, the district total among 116 precincts was all Smullen needed.

“We had a good night,” Smullen said this morning. “I can’t say enough and can’t thank everyone enough in Fulton County for coming out. It was tremendous. I’m very grateful.”

Elsewhere in the 118th Assembly District Republican primary, the counties voted this way: Hamilton County — Smullen, 295 to Vincent, 197; part of Oneida County — Vincent, 393 to Smullen, 353; and St. Lawrence County — Smullen, 317 to Vincent, 124.

Smullen also captured the Conservative primary 93-84, but Vincent’s name may still appear on the Conservative Party line Nov. 6 against Smullen if absentees eventually change that figure.

According to the Fulton County Board of Elections, at least 912 absentee ballots still have to be counted for that county. A total of absentees for the 118th Assembly District was unavailable this morning.

“We clearly won Fulton, Hamilton and St. Lawrence counties,” Smullen said. “It’s very heartening the voters can see who I am. It’s now time for us to work harder and smarter to work the general election.”

Smullen was arrested by state police on July 24. He has been charged with a felony for allegedly filing false paperwork to get a reduction in property taxes on a home he owns in Niskayuna. Smullen immediately cried foul, accusing his opponent, Vincent, of wasting taxpayers’ money and running a smear campaign. Vincent fired back in a social media post that he had nothing to do with the arrest, adding Smullen is not “above the law.”

Vincent, a retired correctional officer and owner of Vincent’s Heating and Fuel Service in Poland.

In other primaries of interest in Fulton and Montgomery counties:

∫ According to unofficial results, Fulton County Public Defender Gerard McAuliffe on Thursday won all three primaries for Fulton County Family Court judge.

McAuliffe is the apparent winner by 227 votes in a Republican primary for Family Court judge over Gloversville attorney Michael W. Smrtic by 2,117 to 1,890.

McAuliffe couldn’t be reached this morning, but his opponent today made a comment in defeat.

“Congratulations to Gerard,” Smrtic said. “It was a long summer and he worked hard.”

McAuliffe also won the Conservative Party primary 49-39; and the Independence Party primary 67-45.

There are over 900 absentee votes out in Fulton County, the county Board of Elections said this morning..

If the numbers stand, and McAuliffe is declared the winner of all three primaries, Smrtic will have come up short, as his name will not be on the ballot Nov. 6 in the general election.

McAuliffe has the potential to be on six lines Nov. 6, with no opposition, as his name will also be on the Green, Reform and Women’s Equality Party lines then.

Current Family Court Judge Edward F. Skoda previously announced he is retiring at the end of 2018. The judgeship is for 10 years.

McAuliffe, a town of Perth resident, has served as Fulton County public defender since 1996. From 1992 to 1996, he was an assistant public defender. He maintains a private law practice with offices at the Johnstown Professional Office Complex on East Main Street in Johnstown.

Smrtic, of Johnstown, who has a private law practice on North Main Street in Gloversville, has held the position of assistant Fulton County attorney for over 10 years. Those duties have included prosecution of juveniles in Family Court, as well as handling all of the persons in need of supervision cases.

∫ In Montgomery County’s Amsterdam Ward 3, Irene Collins defeated Arthur V. Iannuzzi — 97 to 64 — in a Democratic alderman primary.

Iannuzzi will also be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot as a Conservative Party candidate.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Patricia Older

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