Riding the wave of Tea Party activism, Assemblyman Greg Ball handily defeated Somers Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy in the New York State Senate 40th district Republican primary.
"This is very,very simple, I will be the worst nightmare the status quo has seen," Ball said, standing on a chair surrounded by supporters. Vowing to fight the power brokers in the state capital, he added, "Albany is corrupt because too much power lies in too few hands," he said.
Around 11 p.m., unofficial tallies in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties showed Ball with 61 percent of the vote—9,226 to 5,673 total votes.
In November, Ball will face Mike Kaplowitz, a Somers Democrat and member of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, in the race for the senate seat.
At Le Fontane Restaurant in Somers, Murphy thanked her supporters who worked tirelessly on her campaign. "From the bottom of my heart, I am just so appreciative of all the help," she said. She promised to be her office tomorrow.
They both ran on platforms of making change in Albany and lowering taxes.
Ball said he would fight for a property tax cap and a school tax freeze for seniors; he also emphasized getting "fiercely independent people" elected who would be loyal to their constituency instead of the "power brokers who fund their campaigns."
Murphy ran on a platform that included fighting dysfunction in Albany, fighting "unfunded mandates from the state," and protecting the environment.
No stranger to primaries, the outspoken Ball fought his way into the Assembly in 2006 after mounting a primary challenge to incumbent Assemblyman Willis Stephens. Although the Stephens family had held the seat for almost all of the previous 80 years, Ball trounced Stephens, winning more than 70 percent of the vote. After considering, then passing up, a bid for Congress two years ago, Ball set his sights on the State Senate when Vincent Leibell's seat came up for grabs.
Leibell (R-Patterson) chose not to seek re-election and ran instead for Putnam county executive. In addition to his bid for the Republican nomination, Ball also mounted a write-in campaign to displace Murphy on the Conservative line.
The 40th District includes the Westchester towns of Bedford, Somers, Yorktown, Cortlandt, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, North Salem and Pound Ridge, all of Putnam County and part of Dutchess County.
Despite a number of races of interest in Northern Westchester, the early turnout was generally considered light.
At the Bedford Presbyterian Church, only about 25 percent of voters registered in a political party had turned out for the primary by 6 p.m., said polling inspector Mary Clayton.
But the voters who did turn out were enthusiastic.
"I'm a Democrat and I can't be apathetic," said Bedford resident Arthur Weiner, who voted from the town courthouse. "Apathy will only fuel the Republicans. I want them to see we're still determined."
Weiner said he thought Kaplowitz's chances were good against Ball. "He's done a great job for the county, he's accessible to constituents. He's working on water and septic issues for Bedford, too."
Stanley Satty, a Bedford resident and account executive with 107.1 The Peak radio station, said he'd never miss an election. "It's my right. I hope this kicks off the political season and leads to a good turnout in November," he said.
With little dividing them on what they identified on key issues like taxes and the environment, the campaign was personal, contentious and sometimes bizarre.
In one of the more-memorable moments, Ball's former girlfriend, Lauren J. Pistone, staged a press conference in July just outside Somers Town Hall, Murphy's workplace. Pistone said she had been approached by the Murphy camp and asked to denigrate him.
Murphy denied Pistone's charge. For her part, Murphy accused Ball of accomplishing nothing in his four years in the Assembly and even derided the per diem pay he collected this year while the Legislature wrangled past deadline over the state budget, only approving a spending plan last month.
Ball expressed his thanks to his campaign workers from Primavera Restaurant in Croton Falls, and told them, tongue in cheek, to report for work at 6 a.m.
"Let's all pray tonight that there are grass roots candidates across the state getting elected."
His father, he said, buried his mother two days ago only to return home and find a negative campaign flyer in is mailbox. Still, he gave a nod to party unity, saying, "I extend an olive branch to the Republican Party."
"Tonight was the first shot in a tax revolt that will end in November."