ALBANY — Sheriff Craig Apple has opted to end his short-lived run for state Senate.
“I never had aspirations for higher office, but with the support and encouragement I received from residents across the district I tried to convince myself this was the next step for me,” he wrote on Facebook. “I hoped to be a voice for moderate voters who had felt they needed a stronger voice in New York. However after exploring this opportunity I’m drawn back to the goal I have always set for myself and my kids which is ‘find a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life.’”
Apple announced about two weeks ago he would run in the new District 43, drawn by a special master appointed by the courts, that includes Colonie, Green Island and Cohoes in Albany County, all of Rensselaer County and more than half of Washington County.
Andrea Smyth, a Democrat who ran an unsuccessful campaign against Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin in 2017, announced her candidacy for the state Senate in February, before the new lines were drawn and still lives within the modified district. In a blistering statement, she said she was prepared to primary Apple, but now that he is out she said she appreciates his work — as sheriff.
“Sheriff Craig Apple is one of the most well-respected law enforcement officials in this country and I am sure Albany County residents are relieved to know he will remain on the job helping keep our streets safer,” she said in a statement. “His remarkable record speaks for itself and I respect his decision to remain in the job he loves.”
Republican Assemblyman Jake Ashby, who also lives in Rensselaer County, has expressed an interest in running for Senate but has not made a formal announcement.
Apple said he would not endorse in the race.
Apple said during what amounted to a trial balloon that he was the best fit for the district drawn by the court mandated special master because he lives in Colonie and has a home in Rensselaer County. While he did not make a formal announcement, there were political operatives in Albany County circulating nominating petitions for the sheriff’s senate campaign.
Last month, Apple said rather than sit back and criticize state government for mandating things like bail reform, he would make pragmatic policy decisions based on his 35-year career in law enforcement.
“But this is the right decision for me,” he said. “On a county level we have tackled many problems facing our state, and I thought I could make a difference up the street. I’m not so sure I could have as much of an impact on improving our community there as I already do each day.”
It would also mean a significant pay cut. As sheriff he makes $145,000 while a state senator makes $110,000.
“As your sheriff we have a proven track record of protecting the vulnerable, helping the addicted, helping those with mental illness, protecting our schools, creating first of its kind programs, and certainly approaching things with common sense,” he said. “I have proven that law enforcement can be compassionate and kind and still maintain law and order. So with that said, I look forward to protecting you and keeping you safe as long as you will have me.”
Apple has faced little or no opposition since he was first elected sheriff in 2011, taking over for longtime Sheriff Jim Campbell.
Under the old district lines — they are re-drawn every 10 years based on data generated by the U.S. Census — District 43 ran roughly along the Hudson River from Columbia County to Glens Falls. Daphne Jordan, a Republican, is the current senator but her Halfmoon home is now in District 44. She is in a heated war of words with state Sen. Jim Tedisco, who is moving from his home in Glenville, which is in the new District 46, to run in her district.
Colonie is in the current District 44, which is represented by longtime Sen. Neil Breslin. Under the new lines, Tedisco’s Glenville home is in the same newly drawn District 46, as Breslin’s Delmar home.