Michelle Hinchey formally announced the launch of her campaign for the 46th district state Senate seat Monday.
Hinchey, the daughter of the late U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, is challenging Republican state Sen. George Amedore, R-46, for the district that stretches from Ulster County, through Greene, Montgomery and parts of Albany and Schenectady counties.
“We need to think creatively and act courageously to chart a new path forward for our upstate communities — a path that reflects our rich history,” Hinchey said at her campaign launch Monday morning at the Kingston Senate House — the same place where her father announced his congressional race and retirement.
Hinchey, 31, lives in her hometown of Saugerties. She serves on the board of directors of the Catskill Center, which advocates for environmental and economic health of the Catskill region.
Growing up with a father serving in Congress, Hinchey said she had a front-row seat to effecting positive change and serving the people, and always made it a priority to give back to her community. She hopes to continue that mission as state senator for her home district.
Climate change and the environment are among the largest issues on Hinchey’s agenda, as well as expanding job opportunities — especially within clean energy — and access to quality public education and health care.
“I’m focusing on just meeting as many people as possible and listening to their challenges and concerns,” Hinchey said in an interview Tuesday. “We’ll continue to roll out more of our concrete and specific plans.”
Bridging partisan divides by focusing on universal life experiences and challenges for upstate communities is a goal of Hinchey’s. She added the importance of having a Democratic representative upstate in order to get a seat at the table of the Senate majority.
“If we’re not in that room, we’re not going to have access to resources for our communities,” she said.
In a statement she released in July, when she began exploring the state Senate race, Hinchey said Amedore “does not fairly or accurately represent the people of the Hudson Valley or Capital Region.” She has cited the Republican incumbant’s votes against the Reproductive Health Act, which codified federal abortion rights into state law, and the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which has the most ambitious climate targets in the U.S.
Amedore, who has served the 46th district since 2015, did not respond to Hinchey’s comments.
“I welcome her into the conversation and look forward to a spirited debate about the future of New York,” Amedore said in an emailed statement.
Gerald Benjamin, director of the Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz, said with Amedore having survived “a very Democratic year,” the incumbent Republican is strong in the district. Benjamin said Hinchey’s comments on Amedore’s voting record “mobilizes the base,” but that she’ll have to do more to beat Amedore.
“Her test is largely political organization and mobilization as much as it is around issues,” Benjamin said.
He added Hinchey’s test includes showing she’s not just running on the basis of her name.
However, with a newly Democrat-controlled state Senate and a Republican president who is becoming increasingly unpopular among voters across party lines, Benjamin said Republicans have challenges to overcome. Namely, winning back the majority.
U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-19, introduced Hinchey at her campaign launch event Monday.
“Michelle is deeply committed to protecting our environment and improving the lives of working families in upstate,” he tweeted after the event. “I am proud to support her candidacy and look forward to working along side her to make positive change in our region.”
Hinchey follows in the footsteps of her father, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2013, and the state Assembly from 1975 to 1992. Maurice was a major advocate for environmental issues and served as chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee during his time in the Assembly.
The former congressman died in 2017 at the age of 79 from frontotemporal dementia, a rare terminal neurological disorder.
Massarah Mikati covers the New York State Legislature and immigration for Johnson Newspaper Corp. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or find her on Twitter @massarahmikati.