Posted at: 10/22/2012 12:03 AM
Updated at: 10/22/2012 11:01 AM
By: Dan Levy
NISKAYUNA - The Capital Region race to fill the 110th State Assembly District seat has become nasty, so nasty that one of the candidates refuses to sit in the same room with her opponent.
Phil Steck and Jennifer Whalen had been scheduled to debate one another Sunday morning at the Schenectady Jewish Community Center in Niskayuna.
However, citing what she believes to be "repeated deceptions" and "intentional misrepresentations" of her positions, Whalen pulled out of the debate, opting instead to file a complaint against Steck.
While Democrat Steck turned that scheduled debate into a private Q & A with voters, Republican Whalen was going door-to-door, refusing to be in the same room with Steck.
"I am not going to appear on a public platform with him and give him further opportunity to falsify my positions," Whalen stated.
"This not appearing and refusing to debate is just political grand standing," Steck countered. "It's an effort to hide the fact that she has no substantive positions of any meaning on any issues."
What Whalen takes serious issue with is a campaign mailing in which Steck claims Whalen is satisfied with current levels of state education funding, which she insists couldn't be further from the truth -- especially since both of her parents were public school teachers.
"He's run many times before and lost for other positions," Whalen pointed out. "Maybe he's desperate to win this race and he's going to do it by falsifying things about me."
"It's sort of trying to play the victim when you're the attacker," is how Steck responded to Whalen's suggestion.
Steck says it's Whalen whose running a campaign of falsehoods and deception, pointing to a television ad that criticizes Steck for refusing to call for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to step down in the wake of the Vito Lopez scandal.
"Rather than facing a fair discussion with her opponent, she's elected to throw bombs on television," Steck says.
"Shelly Silver is the one that paid the taxpayer money to cover up sexual harassment in the legislature and Phil Steck has remained silent," Whalen reiterated. "He's trying to grasp at any straw he can and it's really pathetic."
Whalen says she intends to file a formal complaint on Monday with the Fair Practices Board, part of the League of Women Voters. She says she will not appear in public with Steck until her case is resolved.
Neither candidate thinks they've done anything wrong.