Thank you! My statement on our primary victory

There is something special about winning an election where turnout goes through the roof like it did in this primary. We won a resounding victory thanks to you, the voters, in a year when four times as many Democrats cast ballots in this district as they did in the primary four years ago. There was a political earthquake in New York yesterday, and we were right at its epicenter. I hear and share your frustration with Washington and with Albany. Throughout my career in public service I’ve prided myself on delivering results, not just photo ops, and that’s exactly what I’ll do as your State Senator.


I also want to take a moment and thank my friend Robert Kesten for running an inspiring primary campaign that spoke to our shared Hudson Valley values. Robert was a powerful voice in this campaign. We are all lucky he ran and lucky that he always spoke from the heart. He and I both promised before we knew the primary results to support the other in the general election because the stakes are far too high for any of our supporters to sit this one out.

The #bluewave 🌊🌊 in our Democratic primary should serve as a reminder to us that we are still represented in Albany by a Trump Republican. We’ve seen Terrence Murphy’s playbook: it’s designed to obscure his record and sow division so that Republicans can hold onto power at all costs. We’re not playing that game anymore. The Hudson Valley is sick and tired of that cynical, Trumpian strategy.

We are going to unite this district and campaign on the issues that matter. We’re going to pass the Reproductive Health Act, the Child Victims Act, and common sense gun safety measures like the Red Flag Bill — all of which Terrence Murphy and the Republican State Senate helped block. We’re going to finally reform NYSEG and revitalize our downtown main streets. When Washington is actively hostile to our region, on everything from the SALT deduction to our core values, we can’t afford a State Senator in Albany who’s part of the problem.

Over the next week I’m going to campaign in every town in this district. Over the next seven weeks, I’m going to fight for every vote. To do that and to win I need you. If you’ve been waiting to volunteer or donate the time is now.

We need to flip one seat – just one – to flip the entire State Senate. Let’s make the 40th District that decisive seat.

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Tapinto: 40th Senate District: Harckham Apparent Winner in Democratic Primary

HUDSON VALLEY, N.Y. – Peter Harckham (D-South Salem) will challenge incumbent state Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) in November’s general election after defeating Robert Kesten (D-South Salem) in yesterday’s Democratic Party primary, according to unofficial election results.

More than 21,000 votes were cast in the 40th State Senate District primary, with Harckham, a former Westchester County legislator, picking up 53.6 percent of the vote between Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties.

“We’re hitting the ground running tomorrow,” Harckham said around midnight from his campaign headquarters in Mount Kisco. “We’re going to be going to every town in the district day after day after day. And we’re going to be talking about fighting for Hudson [Valley] values. And the days of Donald Trump values in the Hudson Valley are over.”


  • Harckham – 9,606
  • Kesten – 8,155


  • Harckham – 1,240
  • Kesten – 1,121


  • Harckham – 445
  • Kesten – 497


  • Harckham – 11,291
  • Kesten – 9,773
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LoHud: New York primary results: Pete Harckham beats Robert Kesten

Video:’s Mark Lungariello interviews Pete Harckham

Former Westchester County Legislator Pete Harckham won a Democratic Party primary Thursday in a battleground New York state Senate District.

Harckham, a Lewisboro resident and former staffer of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, beat fellow Lewisboro resident Robert Kesten.

“To all voters who are tired of the corruption and partisan gridlock, who feel that both Washington and Albany are not listening, I hear you and I will fight for you,” Harckham, 57, said on Thursday. “I will fight the attack on New York from extremists in Washington and their allies in Albany. I will fight for Hudson Valley values, not Trump values.”

Harckham has supported Kesten and even donated to his campaign before throwing his hat into the ring. He’ll now go on to face two-term incumbent Republican Terrence Murphy of Yorktown.

The seat represents District 40, one of the few districts considered in play in a year where even a one-seat swing can shift which party controls the Senate.

The District 40 seat has been held by a Republican for years, even though active registered Democrats outnumber Republicans there 70,498-59,222, according to state Board of Elections logs. There are also 49,696 active voters not registered to any party who could be in play.

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George Latimer Endorses Pete Harckham for Senate

Westchester County Executive George Latimer Endorses Pete Harckham for NY State Senate

Latimer Says NYS SD 40 Candidate’s Experience as a Legislator & Caucus Leader Positions Him Best to Help Unify Senate Democratic Majority Conference

Westchester County Executive George Latimer has endorsed Pete Harckham for NY State Senate in the Democratic primary for District 40 on September 13, noting that Harckham’s experience and record of legislative accomplishment make him the most qualified candidate to win the November race against incumbent Republican State Senator Terrence Murphy.

“I have known and worked with Pete Harckham for nearly twenty years and during that time he has been a champion for our party and our core progressive values,” says Latimer. “He has a strong track record of accomplishment fighting discrimination and improving the lives of those less fortunate among us and he possesses an unwavering dedication to working families and the bread and butter issues that concern us al”.

“Pete has been a staunch advocate in the fight against climate change and many other issues relating to the quality of our environment, both globally and in our own communities, yet he also understands the pressure people in the Hudson Valley feel from the burden of high taxes,” Latimer adds. “His experience as a legislator and a caucus leader positions him best to help unify the Senate Democratic Majority conference to pass meaningful common sense gun safety legislation, protect reproductive healthcare rights, advance the rights of victims of abuse, and to provide universal healthcare for all New Yorkers”.

“I am proud to endorse Pete Harckham for the New York State Senate in the 40th District primary on September 13th, and look forward to working collaboratively with him to address the challenges of our residents in the Hudson Valley,” says Latimer .

“I am honored to be endorsed by Westchester County Executive George Latimer, the finest public servant I know,” says Harckham. “George and I have worked together in various capacities for nearly twenty years. It is a privilege to receive his support and validation of our core message – experience matters. I look forward to working with him to address the challenges faced by the residents of the Hudson Valley and to bring progressive change to the New York State Senate.”

New York State Senate District 40 includes parts of Northern Westchester (Briarcliff Manor, Buchanan, Cortlandt, Croton-on-Hudson, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, Mount Pleasant, New Castle, North Salem, Peekskill, Pleasantville, Pound Ridge, Sleepy Hollow, Somers, Yorktown) Putnam (Brewster, Carmel, Patterson, Southeast) and Dutchess (Beekman, Pawling).

District residents interested in Harckham’s New York State Senate campaign can visit, and @PeteforNY on Twitter and Instagram to learn more, volunteer, or contribute.

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Record-Review: Harckham Touts Experience ‘as a distinct advantage’

With the Democratic primary for State Senator in the 40th district coming up on Thursday, Sept. 13th, the Record-Review is profiling each of the two candidates. This week the focus is on Pete Harckham.


The winner of the Democratic primary will face incumbent Republican Terrance Murphy in the November general election.

"Harckham touts experience 'as a distinct advantage'"

Pete Harckham is currently a Lewisboro resident. He grew up in Rockland County, where he attended Clarkstown High School North. Later a student at Dickinson College, he graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts in English.


“My first job out of college was working for a law firm assisting in an anti-trust litigation between oil companies and the makers of off-shore oil rigs,” Mr. Harckham said. “From there I moved to the advertising business, working on Madison Avenue.”
 Asked to name the most important job he had held, he pointed to his years serving as a Westchester County Legislator. Mr. Harckham represented the 2nd legislative district, which includes Bedford, Lewisboro, and Pound Ridge as well as Mount Kisco, North Salem and Somers, from 2008 to 2015. He was the majority leader for two terms, from 2010 to 2013. During his first year on the board, Andy Spano a Democrat, was county executive. Mr. Spano was defeated when he ran for re-election in 2009, and Republican Rob Astorino became county executive for the rest of Mr. Harckham’s time on the board.


“The board is small enough that you can accomplish things,” Mr. Harckham said, “but represents a large enough population – nearly one million people – that what you do is impactful.” 
        Among the accomplishments Mr. Harckham cited for his tenure on the board are both legislative achievements when Democrats controlled the board, and battles fought once Mr. Astorino entered office and, subsequently, Republicans gained control.


“We passed important legislation to expand the scope of the Human Rights Compassion to enforce the Federal Fair Housing law,’ he said, “and we created a program to help people stave off foreclosure and eviction during the height of the housing crisis.”


Mr. Harckham said he fought “unwise cuts to childcare subsidies” in order to empower lower income families to keep working and contributing to the economy in Westchester, and to keep them off expensive mandated services. On the environmental front, he said, “we passed key legislation to facilitate growth of the solar industry in Westchester, along with expanding plastics recycling from only 1-2, to 3-7.” In addition, he said, “I negotiated a multi-part septic management plan that saved watershed municipalities money while meeting rigorous phosphorous reduction mandates.”


An economic efficiency for which Mr. Harckham takes at least partial credit was helping to facilitate the merger of the Mount Kisco police with the county police. “That saved money by sharing services and personnel,” he said, “as well as providing better protection to the village.” He said he also worked with the County Office of Emergency Management, as well as local municipal OEMs during hurricanes Sandy and Irene and the Halloween Nor’easter. “And all of the while,” he added, “we battled budget challenges due to the recession; we had held the line on taxes and saved jobs in the process.” 
         Mr. Harckham explained what made him first decide to run for elective office. “I had been actively fighting for progressive Democratic values in what was then a largely Republican area of the Hudson Valley, since 2000,” he said. “I also became a board member of A-HOME, an organization that builds and manages affordable housing in northern Westchester. I saw how effective county government could be in facilitating the creation of housing and realized that as the regional government, county government was well suited to tackle a number of issues in northern Westchester.”
 Mr. Harckham ran successfully for county legislator in 2007 and was re-elected in 2009. In 2010, Mr. Harckham ran for the New York State Assembly seat in the 89th district, which comprised most of his county legislative district as well as New Castle, North Castle, Harrison and sections of White Plains. The seat was vacated by Adam Bradley, who had become mayor of White Plains, and a special election was held in February. Mr. Harckham was defeated by Robert Castelli, a former Lewisboro councilman, but continued to serve in the county legislature. He was re-elected for a second time in 2011 and a third time in 2013.


In February of 2015, Mr. Harckham announced he would not seek re-election, saying, “I have loved this job like no other I’ve had but it is time to move in a new direction for my family and my career.”


In June of that year he left the legislature when he was named to a position in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration as assistant director of the office of Community Renewal. At the time he was quoted as saying, “I’m honored. It’s a wonderful opportunity to return to my roots in housing. It’s a new chapter in my public service and an exciting opportunity.”


Mr. Harckham maintained that his experience in elected office makes him well-qualified to become an effective state senator. “While it is great to call for sweeping legislative change, having the knowledge and experience to actually draft and pass legislation is something else. As someone who served as a legislator for four terms, I thoroughly understand the legislative process and have successfully built coalitions to pass numerous pieces of important legislation,” he stated.


Mr. Harckham also cited his three years serving in the governor’s administration. “In the Office of Community Renewal, my primary task was the allotment of $4.3 million in Community Development Block Grant funding,” he said. He also served as the liaison to the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council, worked for the Thruway Authority as the director of intergovernmental affairs of the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project, and served on the DOT task force developing the new bus system that will connect Rockland and Westchester Counties. 
    Mr. Harckham said that through his time serving in state government, he had learned how New York State works and how to get things done. “Ultimately, to be an effective legislator you have to care about serving people and understand that the majority of the job is serving your constituents and constituent municipalities,” he said.


Mr. Harckham said that Democrats “are focused on the mission of defeating Sen. Murphy and gaining a Democratic majority in the State Senate.” Their focus now is on a “process to determine who will be the right candidate to take on Murphy. To that end, experience and qualifications matter,” he said.


Asked to distinguish himself from his primary opponent, he said, “I am the only Democratic candidate who has run in and won elections. I turned a red seat blue and held it during the height of the Tea Party. I know how to message to independent voters and disaffected Republicans, both of whom are necessary to win this race.”


He continued, “I am also the only candidate who has been a legislator, balanced budgets, and forged coalitions of legislators on both sides of the aisle, along with community groups, to pass important legislation. My experience, both politically, administratively and legislatively, is a distinct advantage.”

This article appeared in the Record-Review in August, 2018.

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In primary, Peter Harckham takes aim at Trump, Sen. Terrence Murphy

To read the full article, and watch video of my interview with the reporter, click here.

District 40 is one of the few battleground districts in the state that could determine which party controls the Senate. Every legislator is up for election in November and a gain of even one seat for Democrats can topple a slim Republican majority.

Harckham said his experience in government and as a lawmaker gives him the edge, but that he and Kesten’s message is the same: Republicans are the wrong choice to lead the Senate.

“I think progressives and centrists will see that they failed to lead and they’ve abdicated that right,” he said.

Harckham, who said he’s participated in rifle sport shooting, favors “red flag” legislation that could remove guns from residents identified as a violence risk.

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Interview with Jim Martorano

To read the full interview with Jim Martorano, click here.

Q: You came into this race a little late, while fellow Democrat, Robert Kesten, was already months into his campaign. Can you enlighten us as to why you are running?

Jumping into this race was not a foreign concept to me. The party had asked me to get into this race twice before (years ago) but it just wasn’t a good time in my life. This time, it felt like the right time. I looked at the race very closely and I believe I could make a difference. Like you, I looked around and was sick to death at what was going on in Washington and Albany.

The Republican majority in the Senate, in my estimation, has abdicated their right to lead. They couldn’t even pass administerial things like local tax warrants, or renew red light cameras in school districts, let alone pass important things like the Reproductive Health Act, the Child Victims Act, or the Red Flag bill.

Q: Are there any specific objections you have to the performance of Senator Murphy?

None of this is personal, of course, but yes, our policy differences are very stark. For example:

1) We want the Red Flag bill. It will allow a teacher, a counselor, a parent, to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from someone who is deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. It would be a great complement to the Safe Act, which was passed after Sandy Hook. Sen. Murphy wants to overturn the Safe Act.

2) We want to expand access to voting: early registration, same day registration, voting by mail, etc. Sen. Murphy has introduced a voter I.D. bill, which is something out of the Jim Crow South. Its only purpose is to intimidate minorities and discourage people from voting. To our mind, that’s not a Hudson Valley value, that’s a Trump value.

3) I support the Reproductive Health Act. Sen. Murphy opposes it. That’s not a Hudson Valley value, that’s a Trump value.

The Senate is extremely conservative and unyielding in their views. They wouldn’t even bring any of these issues to a vote. So, that’s why I am running, to support the values we believe in, not Trump values.

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Examiner: Harckham Gears Up Campaign During the Heat of Summer

Summer is roughly at its midpoint and Peter Harckham is comfortable with his standing in the 40th state Senate District race.

That doesn’t mean he’s resting on his laurels. To the contrary, the former Westchester County legislator has been out and about in the district meeting with what he hopes are his future constituents, including visiting Metro-North stations before 6 a.m.

“What I’m hearing most is that they want a Senate that works,” Harckham said. “It’s really clear that the Senate has abdicated its right to lead because they really couldn’t even pass the ministerial stuff, the red-light cameras, the home rule tax warrants, all these local little things that should be as of right, that should be done, they got none of it done.”

But Harckham first has to win two contests if he hopes to get elected – the Democratic primary on Sept. 13 against Robert Kesten, who got an early jump in the race late last summer, followed by what would surely be a bruising general election battle against two-term Republican incumbent Terrence Murphy.

Harckham has been racking up endorsements from key Democratic officeholders this summer with Assembly members Sandy Galef (D-Ossining) and Thomas Abinanti (D-Pleasantville) and many of his former colleagues on the Board of Legislators. He is also expected to soon receive the support of County Executive George Latimer.

He said the support he has received from Democrats at the county and state level has bolstered his campaign. Harckham is optimistic that the general public will evaluate him based on his accomplishments.

“I happen to have a record,” Harckham said. “A lot of people know my record, they know of me and they’ll make a choice, good or bad, but I’ve got a resume and so that’s what people will judge what kind of senator that they think I’ll be.”

To read the full article click here.

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Harlem Valley News: Harckham Endorsed by Former Hudson Valley Congressman John Hall


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Harckham Endorsed by NYS Assembly Members & County Legislators

Two key members of the NY State Assembly and four members of Westchester County’s Board of Legislators have endorsed Pete Harckham’s campaign for NY State Senator in District 40, stressing that Harckham’s experience and record of legislative accomplishment make him the most qualified candidate for the seat.

The endorsing Assembly members are Thomas Abinanti (AD 92) and Sandy Galef (AD 95). Westchester County legislators include Catherine Borgia (LD 9), Majority Leader Catherine Parker (LD7), Majority Whip MaryJane Shimsky (LD12) and Vice-Chair Alfreda Williams (LD8). All endorsed Pete over the last ten days.

“I am proud to receive the support of Assembly members Sandy Galef and Tom Abinanti, who recognize that experience matters,” said Harckham. “I look forward to serving as the partner in the State Senate that they currently lack, and to pass important bills like the Reproductive Health Act, The Child Victims Act and Red Flag legislation to remove firearms temporarily from people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. Together, we will fight for Hudson Valley values.”

“I am pleased to stand with Pete Harckham as the Democratic Candidate for the New York State Senate and to be my state senator. Endorsing Pete may be one of the few things Governor Cuomo and I agree on this year!,” Abinanti said, adding, “I have known Pete for more than ten years, and I saw how effective he could be when he and I served together on the Westchester County Board of Legislators. An environmentalist, Pete demonstrated his concern for clean drinking water and his ability to move government in the effort to build necessary infrastructure to deal with the sewage leaks into Peach Lake”. Abinanti also noted that “Harckham is a leader who can bring people together. He showed it as the Westchester County Legislator’s Majority Leader. He won and was re-elected in a district that had a Republican legislator before him and after he left”.

“I am happy to stand with Pete Harckham in his run for State Senate and I admired his work during his time as legislator and majority leader on the Westchester County Board of Legislators,” said Galef. “His willingness to fight for people who may not have a voice and his commitment to stand up for what is just, regardless of political consequence, makes Pete a fearless progressive champion. He successfully fought housing discrimination in Westchester at a time when some would have preferred to turn a blind eye, and then he helped to fund affordable housing for seniors, our local workforce and the working poor. Having that background of experience and meaningful accomplishment is so important to being an effective legislator. I am looking forward to seeing what he achieves as our next state senator.”

“I am grateful to my former colleagues on the Board of Legislators for their support,” said Harckham. “I look forward to working with them in the Senate to continue to advocate for progressive policies that will benefit all of our constituents.”

“I’m delighted to stand with Pete Harckham, a dedicated, effective, progressive public servant who I’m proud to call a friend and colleague,” said Borgia. “Together we fought to oppose both the Spectra and AIM pipelines, and worked to move Westchester County to embrace renewable energy. Let’s restore Democratic values to New York by electing Pete to the State Senate”.

“In the last year, we’ve won major victories in the Hudson Valley,” said Parker. “We elected George Latimer Westchester County Executive, defended his seat in blow out fashion with Shelley Mayer, flipped four seats in the Westchester County Legislature, and elected Robert Langley Putnam County Sheriff.” She added. “We can build on that momentum this November by flipping the 40th State Senate District and electing a great progressive, Pete Harckham who will give us the decisive vote we need to elect Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins as the Majority Leader of the State Senate next year, and flip the Republican Party’s current one vote advantage”.

“I had the honor of serving with Pete on the Westchester Board of Legislators and know he is progressive yet pragmatic,” said Shimsky. “He co-sponsored many pieces of legislation that helped the environment and helped create jobs. He stood up for progressive values on tough fights like providing affordable child care while protecting the bottom line for taxpayers. Pete has proven he has what it takes to deliver positive change. That’s the kind of experience and leadership we need in Albany, which is why I’m proud to stand with Pete.

“I stand with Pete because Pete has fought for a clean environment, affordable child care and fixing our infrastructure,” said Shimsky, adding “but progressive beliefs are not enough — we need elected officials who know how to get things done”. “Pete has worked cooperatively with government officials to build affordable housing. He quickly rose to leadership on the Westchester County Board of Legislators, where he became known for his integrity and his effectiveness. And his time working for New York State has given him the skill set to make that level of government work for our communities. I stand with Pete because Pete is the kind of leader we need to stand with us.

“I am delighted to stand with Peter Harckham in his race for New York State Senate in Legislative District #40,” said Williams. “Peter is an outstanding candidate and during his time as a Westchester County Legislator was totally committed to improving the Environment and supporting Child Care Initiatives. The citizens in District #40 would be very fortunate to have him as New York State Senator”.

New York State Senate District 40 includes parts of Northern Westchester (Briarcliff Manor, Buchanan, Cortlandt, Croton-on-Hudson, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, Mount Pleasant, New Castle, North Salem, Peekskill, Pleasantville, Pound Ridge, Sleepy Hollow, Somers, Yorktown) Putnam (Brewster, Carmel, Patterson, Southeast) and Dutchess (Beekman, Pawling).

This story can be read at Patch’s website here.

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