Henrietta, NY --- We now have a better idea who may end up replacing former Congressman Eric Massa in New York's 29th Congressional District; a seat that has sat empty since March when Massa resigned amid scandal.
There are now two candidates headlining this race, but a third is mounting a primary challenge.
Republican Tom Reed is the City of Corning's former Mayor and announced his candidacy in July of '09 with every intention of challenging Eric Massa. When Massa resigned in March, Reed instantly went from underdog to favorite in this race and this week his campaign submitted nearly 11,000 signatures on petitions for three political party lines.
"We're confident we have the Independence, Conservative, (and) Republican line so we're running strong," Reed said. "We have well over 11,000 signatures, so I'm just humbled by all the support."
The lone Democrat in the race is Matt Zeller of Victor. The 28 year-old political newcomer was an Army officer deployed to Afghanistan; he resigned a job with the C.I.A. in order to run for Congress. His campaign manager said the Zeller team submitted roughly 4,500 signatures for petitions that land him on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines.
"For a candidacy that started at the end of April and got its professional staff in around the middle of May, what we did in the past six to eight weeks has just been tremendous, especially for a political newcomer like myself," Zeller said.
Thanks to a year of campaigning, Reed holds a significant fundraising advantage with nearly $700,000 raised over that time span and with nearly $350,000 in cash on hand.
"We're showing a great performance on the fundraising side; we're hitting all the marks, we're right on budget," Reed said.
In barely three months Zeller's camp has raised almost $150,000 with about $90,000 in cash on hand.
"We are so proud of our efforts we've exceeded the standards beyond belief," Zeller said.
Also in the mix is a second Republican, Janice Volk of Cuba in Allegany County. Volk describes herself as a mother, grandmother, healthcare administrator, and community organizer. She submitted about 1,400 signatures on a petition aimed at forcing a primary face-off with Tom Reed in September. Volk has not opened a campaign account with the F.E.C. yet but said she intends to--next week.
Since the NY-29th seat remains vacant, a Special Election is also scheduled to take place on the day of the General Election, November 2.
Tom Reed and Matt Zeller are their respective party's nominees for that line on the ballot.
The winner of the Special Election is eligible to be sworn into office the very next day. Voters will vote twice on that ballot and the winner of the General Election will be sworn in January 1, 2011 for a full two-year term.