Former Rochester Police Chief and Republican candidate La’Ron Singletary — who headed the force when a mentally ill Daniel Prude died of asphyxiation in custody — is in striking distance of Democratic Rep. Joe Morelle in the race for the 25th congressional district.
A poll released to The Post by the Singletary campaign shows Morelle leading by just 4 points — 43% to 39% — with the remaining 18% undecided.
The same Tarrance Group poll also shows that Democrat Kathy Hochul leads Republican rival Lee Zeldin by just 4 points in the governor’s race among Rochester area voters.
The survey queried 465 registered voters from Oct. 11-13 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%.
“Former Rochester Chief of Police La’Ron Singletary puts this Democrat-leaning district on the map. While the political environment of the district is friendly toward Democrats, Hochul and Morelle have only a +4 advantage on their respective ballots,” said GOP pollster Lauren Hutchinson.
Morelle, a former assemblyman, was first elected to Congress in 2018 and is seeking a third term.
“For an incumbent, Morelle’s image is not within the threshold of where it should be. If Singletary is well-funded, he can win,” Hutchinson said in a campaign memo.
“First time candidate La’Ron Singletary is known to more than 90% of district voters and his image is in good standing. Singletary is viewed favorably by seniors, Independents, and those most likely to vote.”
She said “partisan intensity” among Republicans is higher and Singletary is doing better among registered independent voters.
Singletary’s background in law enforcement could be a plus for voters concerned about crime. But his tenure as police chief after 20 years of decorated service on the Rochester force ended in controversy.
He headed the department when Daniel Prude died of asphyxiation in March 2020 after Rochester cops attempted to take him into custody and pinned him to the ground while restraining him.
Prude, who suffered from severe mental illness, was found walking in the middle of street naked at 3 a.m. when his brother called 911, preceding the 11-minute confrontation with the police.
Singetary was fired by then-Mayor Warren Lovely and the City of Rochester recently agreed to pay $12 million to settle a wrongful death suit filed by Daniel Prude’s family. Singletary countersued the city and reached a $75,000 settlement and had his medical benefits reinstated.
The Morelle campaign had no immediate comment.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if that race tightened. But I’d be surprised if Morelle was leading by just 4 points,” said State University of Albany political science professor Bruce Gyory.
He said while Singletary’s law enforcement background could be a plus for voters concerned about crime, the controversy surrounding Prude’s death “I got to think is not going to help him.”
A close race for the blue-leaning Rochester seat would signal good news for Republicans battling Democrats for a half dozen competitive congressional seats across the Empire State and the overall bid of the GOP to regain control of the House of Representatives.