Attorney challenges GOP state Sen. Ball

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After fending off a challenge from within his own party, Republican state Sen. Greg Ball faces a new rival -- Democrat Justin Wagner.

Wagner, 31, an attorney who lives in Croton-on-Hudson, officially kicked off his campaign Saturday when he opened an office in downtown Peekskill amid supporters, volunteers and elected leaders from nearby towns.

Ball and Wagner will appeal to voters in the State Senate's 40th district, which encompasses parts of Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties. The district covers much of northern Westchester -- including Mount Kisco, Bedford and Somers, with a narrow tract of land extending past Carmel toward Beekman and Pawling in Dutchess County.

Wagner, a Georgetown graduate, said Saturday that if elected, he'd place priority on job creation and political reform in Albany.

Ball's record is "one of extremism," Wagner said. "He has the number one conservative record in the State Senate."

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Messages were left Saturday at Ball's district office in Brewster and legislative office in Albany.

"My sole focus now, as always, is on job creation, lowering taxes and working with our critical Senate Majority and with Governor Cuomo to get New York State back on track," Ball said earlier this month, when he secured his party's nomination ahead of his re-election bid.

After opening his office at 1 p.m. Saturday, Wagner said he was out canvassing and speaking to voters in the Peekskill area. He said voters should expect announcements detailing his policy positions within the coming week.

Ball defeated Mike Kaplowitz, a Westchester County legislator, in 2010. The seat was vacated when former Republican state Sen. Vincent Leibell decided not to seek re-election in order to run for Putnam County executive. Leibell was later convicted of felony charges for bribery and tax evasion.

Wagner's campaign kickoff comes as Republican Assemblyman Steve Katz announced Thursday that he's suspending his bid to challenge Ball. Katz, who has feuded with Ball, cited health and personal issues for bowing out.

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