MALTA — The 2018 elections are 21 months from now.
Still, when she flies in a plane, takes a train, or hauls her stuff between home in Malta and the nation’s capital in her dad’s Ford pickup truck, Morgan Zegers is busy developing her strategy to win a seat as a Republican in the New York State Assembly.
At present, that seat is occupied by Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, a Democrat who recently won her second two-year term representing the 113th Assembly District by a margin of nearly 8,000 votes, according to state election records. The district straddles portions of Saratoga and Washington counties.
In an email response to questions about the distant 2018 race, Zegers, a 20-year-old junior at American University in the District of Columbia, explains that “a big team of volunteers” is already supporting her efforts. “Considering my age,” she says, “we plan to keep this campaign creative, but also use classic campaign strategy” by organizing fundraisers and buying airtime for commercials. “It’s not about negativity,” she added.
Reached for comment this week, Woerner confirmed that she plans to seek a third term. But in the midst of a productive Assembly session, Woerner was more focused on one of the first bills she co-sponsored: a set of comprehensive ethics reform measures that could deny pensions to state lawmakers convicted of crimes. The pension revocation must be approved by New York voters in a statewide referendum.
“Elected officials are not above the law,” Woerner said in a statement. “These measures are important steps in the process of reigning in the corruption that has plagued the legislature for too long.”
Zegers, who gained much of her political experience as a college intern in the office of Republican U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, claims that social media and modern technology can aid all lawmakers in their maintenance of “full transparency.”
Stefanik “has given me great advice,” Zegers says, “and I’m very thankful to be able to see such a strong woman leading in my own backyard.”
“When you go to my website, you get a clear view of what I’m all about as a community member and as a candidate,” Zegers continued. On the front page of that site (www.morganzegers.com), there’s a colorful picture of her holding a shotgun that she uses for hunting, over the bolded words “Our rights shall not be infringed.”
Her primary focus issues are listed as education, economic freedom, agriculture and defending gun rights.
Zegers says her grandfather, a Vietnam veteran who passed away last year, initially inspired her political ambition. While attending Ballston Spa High School, Zegers formed a bond with him serving as an officer in a VFW post, which led to her involvement in various other clubs.
“This brought me to search for where my values in conservatism and where my passion for my community align with a public office,” Zegers said, adding that the seat she now aims for in the New York State Assembly “matched up” with those values.
To date, more than $6,000 has been raised for her 2018 campaign. Saratoga Springs socialite Michele Riggi, who Zegers says is devoted to “the empowerment of young women,” has made the largest single donation.
“Morgan is a very impressive young woman,” offered Steve Bulger, chairman of the Saratoga County Republican Committee. “She’s smart, she’s focused…and those are exactly the types of people we want involved in the process.” According to Bulger, no other Republicans have announced plans yet to seek the party’s nomination next year.
Woerner’s most recent Republican challenger, Christopher Boyark, had won a party primary last September in which only 1,600 total votes were cast. Zegers said Boyark’s eventual loss to Woerner was the final impetus, causing her to start “thinking I should grab this opportunity.”
“I’m ready to run,” Zegers concluded, even if her graduation from American University in May 2018 must come first.