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GOP Vetting Senate Candidates. Preston Says No. Bucci Out.

By Donnie Dwyer.
While Democrats have seemingly settled on one candidate - former Broome County Executive and DMV Commissioner Barbara Fiala - as their choice to replace Tom Libous in the New York State Senate, Republicans say 30 people have expressed interest and created a pool of candidates the party is still sorting through.

"My phone has been ringing off the hook and while it may be slightly inconvenient from time to time, I view that as a great problem to have," said Bijoy Datta, Broome County Republican Chairman.

Tuesday morning Broome County Executive Debbie Preston became the latest prominent local Republican to say she would not seek her party's nomination for the seat.

"To me, there is no place like home. And I want to stay with the people who have done so much for me in my times of need so I need to stay here with them," said Preston.

Former two-term Binghamton Mayor Rich Bucci was supported by current mayor Rich David. Bucci said this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But according to Bucci, Datta said the party is looking elsewhere.

"This morning he called me back saying, 'You know I got your calls and so forth. And I want to let you know that I brought your name back to the committee. And we are looking at a number of individuals but you are not one of the individuals that we selected that we wanted to go forward with meeting personally," said Bucci.

Bucci is frustrated that he didn't get a chance to explore the position.

"You know what's disappointing is not having the opportunity to talk about it. I mean, if they said after we have discussed it they have a different selection, okay. But to not even have the opportunity to sit down and just talk about it in a more general term is kind of disappointing," said Bucci.

Republicans plan to pick a candidate as soon as possible and say it won't be an easy decision.

"It's been a challenge there is no question about that. But all of us have been ready to step up to the plate to do this work and come to the decision we need to come to. And ultimately, this is about not any of us in the process, it's about the people of Broome, Tioga, Chenango, and Delaware Counties who need a real effective Senator," said Datta.

Two people have publicly expressed interest in the Republican Nomination: businessman Denver Jones, who ran against Libous in a primary last year, and pro-fracking activist Vic Furman.