Assembly Colleagues Wish Ball Luck Elsewhere

ALBANY—Assembly Republicans are wishing Greg Ball the best in his bid for the State Senate.

“Is he? Oh, I thought he was running for Congress,” Assemblyman Ron Canestrari, a Cohoes Democrat, said, referencing an already-begun race against Representative John Hall that included robocalls and town halls on health care. “As long as he’s out of here I don’t care.”

“Greg Ball’s running for State Senate. Ummm, what would you like to know?” Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb told reporters before a leaders meeting the other night. “I would just say I wish him the best of luck for whatever endeavor he wants to pursue. I thought he was running for Congress, but now I guess he’s running for the Senate.”

I asked Kolb, again, if he was saddened by the prospect of losing Ball as a member of the Republican conference.

“I just wish everybody good luck in whatever endeavor they decide endeavor on,” Kolb replied.

Ball is a colorful character. Earlier this year he filed a police report when a dead goat was found near his driveway; Ball claimed intimidation by the “old political machine” and later said he was sleeping with a gun under his bed.

But with his color comes an almost fanatic diligence. “No matter what he runs for he’s going to be formidable, because he’s bright, he’s intelligent, he’s a good communicator and he’s a hard worker,” Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, a Schenectady Republican who unsuccessfully ran for Congress earlier this year.

Ball’s exit from the Congressional race comes after Nan Hayworth, a physician, declared her candidacy in September. In October, Democrats filed suit against Ball for violating FEC regulations, and earlier this month Ball’s campaign touted a poll that did not sample all of the voters in the district. The eyebrow raising reached a level where officials at the National Republican Congressional Committee concluded he was not a disciplined enough candidate and urged him to drop out, according to a Republican familiar with the campaign.

Tedisco, who is mulling another run for Congress, referenced “disorganization” on the part of national Republicans.

“It seems to be, not only is the environment bad, but it seems to be there appears to be some disorganization,” he said. “At the national level, in terms of getting an understanding of what’s taking place specifically in some of these Congressional districts. I think they’re trying to put their best effort forward, but I think they and we’ve all been victims of some unforeseen situations in these elections. And sometimes you can’t control those things.”

(UPDATE: John Randall, an NRCC spokesman, said in an e-mail that “Greg Ball is a dedicated public servant with a bright future and the NRCC respects his decision to run for State Senate.”)

In a formal statement, Ball said his decision to run for State Senate was based on a desire to continue working for change in Albany.

“As an Assemblyman in the minority, I headed to Albany to fight: Fight against the backroom deals, the systemic corruption, and the infamous dysfunction that is costing New Yorkers billions and forcing small businesses out of this state,” Ball said. “As a candidate for State Senate, I look forward to returning to Albany not simply to fight, but to lead.”

“From the overwhelming grassroots support to our continued fundraising successes I am thrilled at the community’s response to my campaign. Yet as I have gone door to door, discussing national issues with voters throughout the Hudson Valley, the conversations have always come back to kitchen table issues,” Ball continued.

He has declared his candidacy for a seat current held by State Senator Vincent Leibell, who might end up running for Putnam County executive, giving Ball an opening. If that doesn’t materialize, Leibell’s fellow senators are ready to rally on his behalf.