Bedford attorney and political newcomer Samard Khojasteh is continuing to forge ahead with his bid to represent the Republican Party in the yet-to-be-called 37th Senate District special election, assembling a campaign team and sending out a letter seeking the support of local committee members.
In his letter, sent just before Christmas, Khojasteh notes he is so far the only Republican who has filed paperwork declaring his intention to run for the Hudson Valley seat vacated by former Democratic Sen. George Latimer, who is now Westchester County executive after defeating the Republican incumbent, Rob Astorino, last fall, though a number of other potential contenders have been mentioned.
Khojasteh, who was born in Iran, and moved to the U.S. with his parents after the Islamic Revolution and during the early years of the Iran-Iraq War, says he and his wife, Anjella, also a child of immigrants from Iran, “are blessed to be products of that long-talked-about ‘American Dream’ – raised by parents
with nothing more than hard work, determination and a dream to provide their children as much possibility as possible.”
“We are running for New York State Senate because, today, too many New Yorkers are being closed out of the American Dream,” Khojasteh wrote. “They simply can’t make ends meet, much less create a foundation for financial security that they can build on to get ahead. They are working harder than ever before, but have less and less to show for it.”
“…I now am running to represent the 37th State Senate District because I believe that more than ever we need independent-minded, practical problem solvers in Albany. Our campaign for Senate will be focused on making New York a great place to raise a family, start a business, and, ultimately, retire – for everyone.”
This pro-immigrant approach is something of a departure from the usual rhetoric adopted by the Senate Republicans, who have employed a decidedly different – and less inclusive – strategy in recent years in their quest to retain control of the majority.
As a political neophyte, Khojasteh says he recognizes what he doesn’t know, and therefore hired some recognizable names to assist him in his Senate quest, including Mollie Fullington, a former Pataki administration spokeswoman, who is handling media; and Mike Lawler, an Astorino administration aide who ran the former county executive’s failed 2014 run for governor, as campaign manager.
Also on board is Ann Herberger, who Khojasteh describes as “one of (former Florida Gov.) Jeb Bush’s top fundraising professionals.”
Whenever the governor calls the special election – and he’s under pressure from the left to do it sooner rather than later, in the context of the ongoing internal battle between the Senate Democrats – this race is likely to be hard-fought and expensive.
Astorino’s loss to Latimer already has Democrats predicting victory as part of a so-called “blue wave” that will sweep New York in elections across the state this year. But Republicans, facing potential loss of their last grip on power at the state level, will no doubt put up as strong a fight as they can muster.
The Democrats first must agree on a candidate, with five candidates vying for the nod from local party leaders: People for Bernie co-founder Katherine Brezler, Bedford Supervisor Christopher Burdick, West Harrison resident Mark Jaffe, Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, and Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano.
A mini convention is scheduled to be held Jan. 9 – a date that has been changed several times now, and caused consternation in some corners – at which committee members are expected to reach a consensus.