A primary preview for Albany County District Attorney, 108th Assembly District

Early and absentee voting is underway for Democratic voters in the Capital Region as primaries are taking place for both Albany County District Attorney and the 108th Assembly District. Early voting is still through Sunday, June 21, with the Primary on Tuesday, June 23. Given the overwhelming advantage the Democratic Party has for enrollment in both races, the primary is tantamount to winning the general election.

Albany County District Attorney

The race for District Attorney pits David Soares, the four-term incumbent, against Matthew Toporowski, a defense attorney. Soares, 50, was first elected in 2004 and last faced a primary opponent in 2012. In that race, Soares faced well-known defense attorney Lee Kindlon in a bid for a third term. Soares defeated Kindlon, 57 percent to 40 percent. In that campaign, Soares was backed by the Working Families Party, as was the case in his initial race in 2004 against then-District Attorney Paul Clyne.

This year, the Working Families Party and its affiliate Citizen Action of New York is backing Toporowski, 34, in an about-face to supporting Soares. The WFP cited Soares’ tenure as president of the District Attorneys Association of New York State – in particularly that DAASNYs opposition to the original bail and discovery reform legislation – as a reason to withdraw their support. Those reforms, promoted by WFP and Citizen Action, were modified due to overwhelming public pressure by the state legislature earlier this year.

Prior to Soares being elected district attorney, he was a community prosecutor in the Albany County District Attorney’s office. Toporowski currently is a staff attorney for the Wagoner Firm, an Albany-based law firm, and previously was an assistant district attorney – also for the Albany County District Attorney’s office under Soares. That tenure, however, allegedly came at an abrupt end according to the Times Union that led to Toporowski’s resigning. 

Toporowski has more than $74,000 cash-on-hand vs. under $8,000 for Soares. Toporowski has received several thousand donations, although after a review of a report from the state board of elections shows many are from out of New York State. Donors to Soares in comparison, according to BOE, only counts one individual out of state.

Besides the WFP and Citizen Action, Toporowski has been endorsed by Zephyr Teachout, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, singer/songwriter John Legend, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, former Common Councilmember Barbara Smith, and County Legislator Carolyn McLaughlin. Soares has been endorsed by the Albany County Democratic Committee, the Independence Party of New York State, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, Assemblymembers John T. McDonald III and Patricia Fahy, County Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce, former Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, Albany County Comptroller Susan Rizzo, and Teamsters Local 294.

108th Assembly District

Similar to the District Attorney’s race, the race for the 108th Assembly District has incumbent John T. McDonald III, who has served in the Assembly since 2013, against County Legislator Samuel Fein. Fein, like Toporowski, is being supported by the WFP and Citizen Action of New York.

The district includes parts of Albany, Rensselaer, and Saratoga counties.

McDonald, 58, was previously mayor of Cohoes from 2000 to 2012. A licensed pharmacist, McDonald owns and operates his family’s pharmacy, Marra’s, in Downtown Cohoes. McDonald originally won the Assembly seat in 2012 against then-Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin. McDonald is the chair of the Assembly’s oversight, analysis, and investigation committee.

Fein, 30, has served in the Albany County Legislature since 2016. Fein won a competitive primary in the fifth legislative district in 2015. The Union College graduate previously worked for the Office of Audit & Control for the City of Albany and for New York State Assembly Majority. One of Fein’s legislative accomplishments, according to his campaign website, was enacting legislation to “ban the box” to end employment discrimination for formerly incarcerated people by banning questions about criminal history on job applications.

McDonald counts several regional elected officials as endorsers, whereas Fein – besides WFP and Citizen Action – has been endorsed by 1199 SEIU and People for the American Way.

Voting Information

Find local information about where you can found below.





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