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Bronson leads Yudelson, but race remains undecided

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ILLUSTRATION BY RYAN WILLIAMSON
  • ILLUSTRATION BY RYAN WILLIAMSON
Like virtually every other primary election in Monroe County, the race pitting Assembly member Harry Bronson against Alex Yudelson for the Democratic line in the 138th Assembly District remains unsettled, pending the counting of absentee ballots.

As of the close of polls, Bronson held a substantial lead with 60 percent of the vote, or an advantage of about 1,200 votes.

Roughly 28,400 uncounted absentee ballots for local primaries had been returned as of Tuesday, according to the Monroe County Board of Elections, but it was unclear how many of them were cast for each race.

"Ultimately, (voters), I think, looked at my candidacy as someone who is progressive, some say the most progressive state legislator in upstate New York and they wanted more of the same," Bronson said.

Yudelson said he called Bronson to congratulate him on the results, but cautioned that his phone call was not concessionary. He pegged the number of outstanding absentee ballots in the race at close to 10,000.

"We won't know the final outcome until those ballots are counted," Yudelson said. "I'm incredibly proud of this campaign, and beyond grateful for the countless volunteers and voters that invested their time in it."



The Bronson-Yudelson contest has been perhaps the most closely watched of any this primary season for several reasons.

There is the prominence of the candidates. 
Assembly member Harry Bronson. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • Assembly member Harry Bronson.

Bronson is a five-term legislator with a progressive record of supporting gay rights, labor rights, and reforms in the criminal justice system. Yudelson is an upstart with the backing of Rochester’s best-known Democrat in Mayor Lovely Warren. Yudelson is her chief of staff.

Then there is the controversial backstory to their match-up.

Despite being a fixture in local politics and loyal to Democratic causes, Bronson lost his party’s endorsement to Yudelson in an internal election that prompted accusations of nepotism and rule-bending.

Yudelson won that election with the support of two Democratic committees — one led by his father, the Democratic leader of Henrietta, and another led by a mayoral spokesperson.

The 138th District covers Chili, Henrietta, and a wide swath of Rochester.

Lastly, there is what has become the central issue of their campaign — the governance of Rochester public schools. 
Alex Yudelson, Mayor Lovely Warren’s chief of staff, is challenging Assembly member Harry Bronson for the 138th Assembly District seat. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • Alex Yudelson, Mayor Lovely Warren’s chief of staff, is challenging Assembly member Harry Bronson for the 138th Assembly District seat.

Yudelson has sided with the mayor, who has used her bully pulpit to call for a complete reset of the Rochester City School District, including doing away with the school board and having the state take over the district. 

Bronson favors the plan that he helped broker in Albany and is currently unfolding, one that keeps the school board intact but has state academic and fiscal monitors overseeing things.

The race has been laced with undertones of suspicion from both sides.

Yudelson, who trails Bronson considerably in fundraising, has made much of Bronson’s campaign benefiting from $100,000 in marketing financed by the state teachers’ union.

This week, Bronson filed what his campaign called “a voter protection lawsuit” asking the state Supreme Court to order all ballots be impounded and monitor their count.

On Tuesday, the court held off on issuing an order, but left open the opportunity for the Bronson camp to make the request again should impounding ballots prove necessary.

David Andreatta is CITY’s editor. He can be reached at dandreatta@rochester-citynews.com.

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