The third-largest party in New York's 20th Congressional District has endorsed incumbent Democrat Scott Murphy this year.
"New York needs a leader who will be a strong independent voice for his district," Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay said in a prepared statement. "Congressman Scott Murphy has shown us that he is that leader. He is a candidate with the experience necessary to work with our small businesses to create jobs and rebuild our economy."
Lee Kolesnikoff, Saratoga County Independence Party chairman, said his party's committee interviewed both Murphy and his Republican opponent, Army Col. Chris Gibson of Kinderhook.
"We looked at the qualifications, the performance, (and) we decided that Scott Murphy was the one," Kolesnikoff said.
To get the ballot line, Murphy, D-Glens Falls, needs to sign a letter from the party accepting the endorsement and file petitions with about 1,000 signatures from party members with the state Board of Elections. The party will then need to file a certificate of authorization, commonly called a "Wilson Pakula" after a 1940s law, authorizing him to run on their line, as he is not an Independence Party member and needs the party's authorization to run on the line.
Although the state party is backing Murphy, the Columbia and Warren county Independence parties back Gibson, and Gibson says he will continue to pursue the Independence line. In a prepared statement, Gibson said he feels his views are better aligned with the "vision, goals and platform of the Independence Party."
"We still have a lot of supporters who are in the Independence Party and will be collecting petitions on Chris's behalf," said Gibson spokesman Robert Clark.
To get on the primary ballot via an "opportunity to ballot" procedure, Gibson would also need 1,000 or so signatures, allowing the race to be declared contested and his name to be written in.
The Independence Party had 25,880 members in the district on April 1, compared to 186,735 Republicans and 124,561 Democrats. Out of the district's 460,046 registered voters, 110,659 aren't registered with a party and the rest are members of various smaller parties.
Murphy got 6,754 votes on the Independence line when he was elected in 2009, far in excess of his 726-vote margin of victory over Republican Jim Tedisco, a Glenville Assemblyman.
The party has backed Democrats and Republicans in various elections. It is supporting Andrew Cuomo for governor and Kirsten Gillibrand for U.S. Senate this year. It was reported earlier this month that the Independence Party was planning on backing Matt Doheny in New York's 23rd Congressional District, but no announcement has been made. It backed Republican Dede Scozzafava in last year's special election, then switched its support to Democrat Bill Owens when Scozzafava dropped out of the race a few days before the election. Scozzafava was still on the ballot, however, getting 1,322 votes on the Independence line and 7,260 on the Republican.
The Independence Party says it stands for fiscally responsible government and making sure voters have more of a choice in government than they do now.
Contact Nathan Brown at 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.