ALBANY — The Albany County Republican Party has a new chair.
Christine Benedict, the former county legislator from Colonie, opted not to seek the seat she has held since 2014.
The committee unanimously elected Randy Bashwinger, the superintendent of highways for the Town of Berne, as the party’s new leader at its annual orgainziational meeting on Friday, Sept. 25.
Bashwinger was not available to comment but this story will be updated.
For years, Republicans in Albany County have struggled in two political fundamentals: fielding decent candidates and raising money. There has not been a viable candidate for county executive since Dan McCoy was elected in 2011, the only race for DA this year was during the primary when another Democrat tried to take on David Soares and in 2019 the Republican candidate for county comptroller got beat by a near 2 to 1 margin.
And forget about any chance of having a competitive race for sheriff.
As the Republican Party chair in Berne, Bashwinger was able to convince Democrats, those enrolled in the minor parties and the all-important non-affiliated voters to pull the lever for Republicans.
Berne is one of the few in Albany County that has a Town Board controlled by the Republican Party.
Some of the party’s woes can be placed on Benedict’s shoulders, she was the chair, but some is just plain demographics. As of February, there were 107,226 enrolled Democrats in Albany County and 37,894 enrolled Republicans. There are more registered voters, 48,505, not enrolled in any party than those enrolled in the GOP, a rarity across the state.
In Berne there are 920 enrolled Democrats and 466 enrolled Republicans, according to the state Board of Elections. And there are 563 unaffiliated voters. Right now, Republicans have a 4-1 majority on the Town Board including a Republican supervisor.
This story will be updated.