Skoufis, Basile joust

Candidates for 39th state Senate seat engage in heated exchange over women's health legislation

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By Bob Quinn

The war of words continues to escalate in the race for the 39th New York State Senate District.

In this case, the heated exchange pits Assemblyman James Skoufis, the Democrat from Woodbury, against Stony Point Town Councilman and Republican Tom Basile. (Orange County Legislator Mike Anagnostakis is gathering signatures to force a GOP primary against Basile in September.)

The race is important for a number of reasons. It begins with the notion that the seat has been held by Republican William J. Larkin Jr. since 1990. Republicans hold a fragile majority in the upper chamber of the state Legislature that provides counterbalance to the Democrat-controlled Assembly and to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Larkin, who is stepping down at the end of the year, is supporting Basile. Statewide Democrats see this open seat as an opportunity to build a majority to control both houses.

And while the rhetoric is in many way, just that, rhetoric, it also outlines the issues confronting voters in the district, in the state, across the country - health care, women’s rights, taxes, campaign financing.

‘To tow the line for disturbing, radical Albany insiders’Skoufis issued the following statement after he said the State Senate Majority backers of Basile’s campaign blocked two critical pieces of women’s health legislation earlier this week: the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act and the Reproductive Health Act.

“The shameful actions and dysfunction we saw today in the State Senate shows why the election in the 39th District is so important,” Skoufis said. “Tom Basile is a puppet of the same radical Albany insiders that continue to block common-sense women’s health laws with bipartisan support.

“Based on his Mercer-funded campaign, his six-figure job working for the Mercers, his contributions to Steve Bannon’s hate-filled Breitbart website, and his lifetime of putting party before people, Basile has clearly demonstrated he would be a rubber stamp for the most destructive wing of his party if he were ever elected to the State Senate,” the statement continued.

“Simply put, we can’t trust him to protect the rights of Hudson Valley women.

“Where is Tom Basile denouncing the anti-women actions taken today by the State Senate? Where is Tom Basile denouncing the misogynistic, vile articles on Breitbart and other outlets he contributes to? The fact remains, Tom Basile is not only wrong on the issues, but he’s a shadowy operative with deep ties to extremists like the Mercer Family and the disgraced Steve Bannon.”

Skoufis concluded his statement with these words: “Voters in this district deserve an independent Senator who will put people ahead of politics and refuse to tow the line for disturbing, radical elements of their party.”

‘Towing the line of his New York City political bosses’“Mr. Skoufis would know a thing or two about putting party before people,” Basile responded in a press statement. “He has been attacking me personally since the day he announced because he doesn’t want voters focused on his record of voting for billions in new taxes and spending we can’t afford. Just this year, he’s voted for $2 billion more in spending than even Governor Cuomo proposed.

“While he’ll say anything to convince people he’s independent,” Basile added, “he’s up in Albany voting for policies like socialized medicine and ‘free college.’ His attacks are a smokescreen to prevent hard-working people in our area from realizing that for all his talk he has failed time and time again to deliver on his promises.

“If Mr. Skoufis actually cared about the needs of women in our area, he’d be fighting to help lower taxes, reduce spending and provide a greater opportunity for our families to stay here,” the Republican concluded, “People are being taxed out of their homes and he’s busy towing the line of his New York City political bosses by trying to scare women and advocating for laws that cut against the religious freedom of all our faith-based institutions.”

Stay tune.

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