The petitions are in, and it looks like there will be Democratic, Republican and Green Party primary elections in New York's 21st Congressional District in a wide-open race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Bill Owens.
The deadline to submit signatures to the Board of Elections passed Thursday. Candidates who submitted their signatures will likely appear on the June 24 primary ballot, unless their signatures are thrown out in a legal challenge.
For the Republican candidates, Elise Stefanik from Willsboro and Matt Doheny from Watertown both submitted signatures for three parties: Republican, Conservative Party and Independence. Joe Gilbert of DeKalb Junction has not filed petitions as of press time. Gilbert previously told the Enterprise he had more than enough signatures. Phone calls made to him went unanswered.
Democratic candidates Steven Burke from Macomb and Aaron Woolf from Elizabethtown both submitted signatures in time, Woolf for the Democratic and Working Families parties and Burke for the Democratic. Woolf was endorsed by the county chairs
"I'm very pleased and thankful to all the people who signed the petitions," Burke said. "It was very enlightening to listen to and speak to people about problems in the North Country."
Woolf's campaign manager, Stuart Rosenberg, said they collected three times as many Democratic signatures as were needed.
"We are excited by the momentum that is growing in our campaign throughout the district, and look forward to continuing conversations with residents in the 21st Congressional District on how, working together, we can create jobs and grow our economy here in the North Country," Rosenberg wrote by email.
Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello from Glens Falls submitted his signatures. Donald Hassig of Colton said in a press release that he mailed his signatures on Thursday, so there will likely be a Green Party primary.
"Earlier today, I mailed my designating petition off to the NYS Board of Elections in Albany," Hassig wrote. "Now I can turn all of my attention to the June 24th primary election, which means taking action to protect the environment."
Candidates can still secure a place on the ballot if their package containing signatures is postmarked before the deadline, according to Board of Elections rules.
A close Republican race
The Republican candidates have attempted to one-up each other in press releases about total signatures they've collected.
The Doheny campaign reports submitting a total of 3,500 Republican signatures, 1,025 Conservative Party signatures and 1,541 Independence Party petitions to the Board of Elections.
"I was proud to carry the banner of the Conservative party in 2012 and am gratified by the incredible support we have received from rank and file party members throughout the North Country," Doheny wrote in a press release.
Stefanik filed 5,700 Republican signatures and more than 700 Conservative Party signatures, and also enough for the Independence line, according to her campaign. Her petitions are being contested, according to the Board of Elections.
"I'm so appreciative and humbled by the support conservative voters across the district have given our campaign," Stefanik wrote in a press release. "I've spoken with hundreds of like-minded common sense conservatives throughout the last year at Constitution rallies. I want to thank all the hardworking volunteers who went out in the cold and snow to collect signatures with me."
Both candidates continue to vie for support among the Conservative Party, with each getting endorsements from county representatives.
The big decision to officially endorse a candidate will be made at 1 p.m. today by the Conservative Party executive committee.
Franklin County Republican Chairman Ray Scollin, who along with 11 Republican county chairs endorsed Stefanik, said the number of signatures collected isn't as big a deal as the candidates make it seem.
"These numbers will all change," Scollin said. "There is quite a process in reviewing these signatures ... but I'll be interested in seeing what the final numbers look like."
Scollin said it's too early to tell if petition signature numbers will equal support.
"A lot of people sign petitions to simply get candidates on the ballot," he said.
Scollin said he is much more excited to hear the results of today's announcement.
"The interesting thing is what goes on when the Conservative Party has their state executive meeting," Scollin said.
Contact Matthew Turner at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.