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Ritchie, Tresidder face off on Tuesday in bid to represent north country in Senate


Two years ago, the north country was a central battleground for control of the state Senate.

This year, the race is not mentioned as a potential tipping point in the upper chamber, and it hasn’t made a significant splash even in the local media. But Democrat Amy M. Tresidder, facing state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, is attempting to defy expectations, while Mrs. Ritchie is attempting to hold on to a hard-won seat in a much more low-key race.

Mrs. Ritchie said she believes she knows why her first re-election campaign has been much easier than her first go-around.

“I ran so that I could help Albany change the course it was on,” she said. “I believe that happened.”

While Mrs. Tresidder acknowledges that she is the underdog, she says she doesn’t have any regrets about running her campaign.

“I said I was going to do it myself,” said Mrs. Tresidder, an Oswego County legislator of who is a native of St. Lawrence County. “Naysayers said it was impossible. I stuck with it. That to me is a victory.”

In 2010, then the St. Lawrence County clerk, Mrs. Ritchie was taking on incumbent Darrel J. Aubertine, a Democrat of Cape Vincent. The public polls showed a dead heat. Campaign commercials filled the airwaves. Millions of dollars were spent.

Mrs. Ritchie ended up winning, 52 percent to 48 percent, and Republicans regained control of the state Senate.

This year, each campaign has put out only one commercial each. There have been no reports of vicious, anonymous, last-minute fliers in Jefferson or Oswego counties or the parts of St. Lawrence County that make up the district. And the campaign cash has stayed on the sidelines. As of a week and a half before the election, Mrs. Ritchie had spent $115,397. She had more than $100,000 in her campaign account, untouched. Mrs. Tresidder had spent $26,323, and had about $14,000 in her campaign account.

Mrs. Ritchie says the election comes down to control of the state Senate, and staying the course of the past two years. Her ads have highlighted the Republican Senate’s work with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the popular first-term Democrat. That’s a far cry from the chaos of 2009 and 2010.

“They were in partisan gridlock, even though the same party actually represented both houses and the governor,” Mrs. Ritchie said. “So absolutely nothing was getting done down there. I think we’ve started to turn things around to get the state on the right track.”

Mrs. Ritchie frequently points to the fact that the state Legislature, at Mr. Cuomo’s urging, passed an on-time budget two years in a row, and also instituted a cap on runaway property tax increases.

Mrs. Tresidder, on the other hand, doesn’t believe that things have gotten all that much better in the past two years.

“Look at the unemployment rate in St. Lawrence County and ask those people if they’re better off than they were two years ago,” Mrs. Tresidder said. “I don’t see it. I don’t see an improvement in two years.”

St. Lawrence County’s unemployment rate was 9.5 percent in September. In September 2010, the unemployment rate was 9.4 percent.

Mrs. Tresidder said her two main priorities are letting St. Lawrence County increase its sales tax from 3 percent to 4 percent to help plug a budget deficit, and passing legislation that would increase the minimum wage. But even as she’s giving out her political platform, she admits she’s not the greatest politician.

That’s fine with her, she said: “It’s about people, not politics.”

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