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Former state Assemblyman Paul Tonko (D) is set to formally enter the race to replace retiring Rep. Mike McNulty (D) with a speech this afternoon at the Albany Labor Temple.

Tonko will become the eighth Democrat in the race and will immediately leap to the head of the pack alongside Tracey Brooks, a former aide to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D), and Albany County Legislator Phil Steck (D).

Even before he formally entered the race, Tonko picked up the endorsement Monday of the Communications Workers of America, which hailed his record during two dozen years in the Legislature.

“We need leaders who will help rebuild our middle class and put our country back on the right track,” the union said in a statement. “Paul Tonko is that kind of leader.”

The Albany-area 21st district is almost certain to remain in the Democratic column this November.

Potential Self-Funder Wants to Oust Arcuri

Republicans finally got the candidate they wanted all along to challenge freshman Rep. Michael Arcuri (D). The question is whether businessman Richard Hanna (R) has entered the 24th district race too late.

Hanna, a construction company owner, formally announced his candidacy late last week and immediately tried to distance himself from the struggling GOP.

“I’m not running as a Republican,” he said, according to the Utica Observer-Dispatch. “I’m running as an independent businessman with an independent voice. I expect to appeal across party lines.”

Arcuri won a competitive race last cycle in a district with 35,000 more Republicans than Democrats (though there are 76,000 enrolled independents), and he closed March with $591,000 in the bank. Republicans are hoping that Hanna will be willing to at least partly self-fund his campaign, though he told the Observer-Dispatch he was not sure how much he is willing to spend.

“It is our hope we will be able to raise enough money,” Hanna said. “I think if someone’s messages are so bad that it’s not appealing or can’t find traction among constituents, that’s a sign maybe their message isn’t that good.”

— Josh Kurtz

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