News10NBC Investigates: No Monroe County District Attorney race for first time in 30 years

Monroe County DA race uncontested 10-24

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – If you didn’t know the Monroe County District Attorney was up for election this year, our story probably explains why.

For the first time in at least 30 years, the Democratic Party doesn’t have a candidate for D.A.

Berkeley Brean, chief investigative reporter: “You do not have a candidate for that race.”

Stephen DeVay chair of the Monroe County Democratic Committee: “We do not have a candidate on the Democratic side.”

Brean: “Why is that?”

DeVay: “Well, there’s lot of reasons why we don’t.”

Stephen DeVay is the chair of the Monroe County Democratic Committee. He says the party talked to a dozen people to run for district attorney, but no one was willing to do it. 

“And ultimately at the end of this, we don’t have a candidate for D.A. because it was really difficult to find somebody that was willing to enter that race, to deal with what it is to run for office, to deal with the stress, with conflict, the opening up of your personal life,” DeVay said. “To be clear, would we have liked a candidate? Yes.”

The Monroe County Board of Elections posts every election online going back to 1995 and every four years since then, the Democratic Party had a candidate for D.A. Monroe County is the second-largest county upstate and active, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 80,000.

Brean: “I just find it hard to believe that you couldn’t find a single person to run for that office.”

DeVay: “So the decision to run is a personal one. And in this cycle we had people who prioritized starting a family, prioritized sick family members, or prioritized running for other offices this cycle.”

“It defies belief that the Democratic committee could not find a Democrat to run,” said Rachel Barnhart, a Democratic Monroe County legislator. “So let’s say you want to move Sandra Doorley on a particular issue. An election can do that. Debates do that. A race can do that.”

Four years ago, the Republican Doorley won by 20,000 votes. She declined my offers to talk about this story.

Brean: “Did you ever consider cross-endorsing Sandra Doorley?”

DeVay: “No, that’s not something we considered, cross-endorsing.”

The district attorney candidates in Rockland and Sullivan counties are cross-endorsed.

There are 23 counties in New York where the district attorney is up for election. Only eight of them are contested and most of the time it’s because there is no Democratic candidate.

Although Democrats outnumber Republicans in Monroe County, there’s no Democratic candidate for district attorney. (Photo: Berkeley Brean/WHEC)