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With one win, state reps see mandate for the middle

It wasn't even close last Tuesday night as Assemblywoman Janet L. Duprey, R-Peru, overcame opposition from both sides of the political spectrum and trounced her two challengers.

And with this single victory, the region's socially centrist Republican state representatives see a political mandate from area voters in support of moderate policy stances.

Duprey said in order to remain viable in one of the bluest states in the union, the GOP must maintain a broad and tolerant perspective.

"We've got to be more all-encompassing in the Republican Party if we're going to reach out to everybody. I like to think that's where I've always been," she said. "But I think it's been more clear in this past year than it has in the past."

Duprey enjoyed strong support from Republicans, independents and Democrats.

Assemblywoman Teresa R. Sayward, R-Willsboro, is part of an all-female Republican voting block that includes Duprey and their outgoing colleague Dede Scozzafava.

"I've never thought our region is all that conservative, especially when it comes to social issues," she said. "Quite frankly, I just think people are closer to the middle than anybody would like to admit."

Moderate Republicans are arguing that in New York's North Country, the Tea Party movement is only representative of a vocal, but small minority of the actual population.

Conservatives and Tea Party activists have been extremely vocal ever since North Country Republicans picked Dede Scozzafava as their nominee for New York's 23rd Congressional District seat last year. The intra-party revolt that followed doomed Scozzafava's bid, led to the first election of a Democrat in the district since the Civil War and, for a time, made her Assembly backers - primarily Duprey and Teresa Sayward - seemingly vulnerable.

Conservative David Kimmel's challenge to Duprey is a direct result of the right's anger with centrist Republicans. Days before the election, it was widely speculated Kimmel could potentially funnel enough votes away from Duprey to hand the seat to Democrat Rudy Johnson.

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