21st Congressional District primary election guide

After campaigning all summer, and since last winter for some, it all comes down to the Tuesday, Sept. 9, primary for the seven candidates vying for retiring Congressman Michael McNulty's seat in the 21st District.

At the end of the day, one Democrat and one Republican will fight to be the area's new representative after McNulty's 20-year tenure. McNulty's early announcement that he was retiring last year led to a substantial amount of interest in the seat, with as many as 10 candidates in the running at one time.

The Democratic-dominated district encompasses seven counties: Albany, Schenectady, Schoharie, and Montgomery counties, as well as parts of Fulton, Rensselaer, and Saratoga counties.

Republicans James Buhrmaster, a Schenectady County legislator, and entrepreneur businessman Steven Vasquez will face off in their party's primary.

On the Democratic ticket there will be five candidates on the ballot: Albany County legislator and Colonie Democratic chairman Phil Steck was the first to announce his candidacy for McNulty's seat, followed by former Sen. Hillary Clinton aide and attorney Tracey Brooks. Former Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand aide Darius Shahinfar then threw his hat into the ring.

It wasn't until later in the race that Paul Tonko, a former state assemblyman and former CEO of NYSERDA, finally announced he would run for McNulty's seat after months of speculation and denial by the state's former energy chairman.

Then, shortly before state petitions were due, conservative Democrat Joseph Sullivan decided to make a go of it himself. Sullivan, a former Albany City Republican chairman, made the deadline and survived a petition challenge to make the final cut on the ballot for Tuesday's primary.

Spotlight Newspapers invited all of the candidates to participate in a survey and questionnaire in order to shed some light on their candidacy as voters head to the polls on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

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