Thursday, 7/22/10, 7:30pm. The campaign for Janice Volk of Cuba, Allegany County is firing back at her Republican opponent Tom Reed. Both Reed & Volk submitted signatures on petitions to appear on the Republican Party line in September’s primary. Reed’s camp had nearly 11,000 signatures; Volk’s campaign manager tells me they submitted 1,436. A candidate must have 1,250 valid signatures to remain on the ballot.
A friend and fellow lawyer of Reed’s in Corning submitted a “general challenge” of Volk’s signatures to the Board of Elections this week. The B.O.E. tells me he has until the 26th to submit “specific challenges” and then there’s a whole back-and-forth between the Volk camp and the B.O.E. until it’s determined whether or not she has the 1,250 valid signatures. A B.O.E. spokesman tells me challenges usually look at the following:
Is signature of a registered voter? Is the voter of the appropriate political party to sign the petition? Did the voter sign another candidate’s petition? Are they residents of the NY-29th? Etc…
In response to this challenge Volk’s campaign manager Terry Cary sent out the release I pasted below. A few notes from my conversation with Cary this afternoon.
-Cary sees this is as an attempt to “disenfranchise” voters of the NY-29 because with only one Republican on the ballot (should the challenge be successful) voters of that party only have one choice.
-Cary’s confident in the signatures on those petitions and says the campaign started with a state provided list of registered Republican voters in the NY-29 and then worked to secure specifically those signatures.
-However, Cary’s concern (evident in this press release) is that lawyers can find technicalities and that the Volk campaign may struggle to find the funding to appropriately defend its signatures. “My concern is the dollars,” Cary said.
-Cary doesn’t say it explicitly in the release, so I asked him directly if he is calling Tom Reed’s campaign to ask that this challenge be dropped so a primary can continue? After some hedging Cary said he is calling for that to happen. “I’m not above that,” he said.
-Cary also raises the issue of racism and sexism. This is something that stood out to me and it may warrant the attention of another blog entirely. “Janice nor the committee assume that the motivation for these actions are based on racism or sexism” is the exact wording. My question – so why bring it up? I mean isn’t that statement a backdoor way of interjecting the issue of racism and sexism into this conversation about petition signatures? To that Cary said, “That’s not my intention, I don’t want that to happen.”
More specifically on this issue, Cary said there are a lot of hateful things circulating about his candidate, Janice Volk. He said that perhaps it’s because only 1.8% of the population in NY-29 is African American. He said there are blogs where very nasty comments are being made about Volk’s gender and race. (note: I have requested Cary point me to these just so I can verify that’s the case, I will not be pointing any viewer or reader to them for obvious reasons.) Cary said some have questioned whether Volk is just a Democrat trying to win on the Republican line and he suspects a racially motivated thought process there too.
To be clear, Cary said Volk is a lifelong registered Republican.
Like I said, this may be an issue I revisit. Whether it was intended or not, Cary’s statement did rather blatantly begin a discussion about racism and sexism in this campaign.