Another last minute twist has once again changed the landscape of this Tuesday’s race for the vacant New York 20th district congressional race. Following a series of challenges to ballot signatures, Libertarian Party candidate Eric Sundwall has dropped out of the race.
“We are dismayed that the people of the 20th Congressional District will not have the opportunity to vote for Eric Sundwall due to a technicality that hinges on what town or city the voter or witness lives in as opposed to their community of residence,” said Richard Cooper, Sundwall’s campaign manager.
The state Board of Elections ruled unanimously Sundwall should be removed from the ballot because 3,786 of the nominating signatures he turned in were invalid. Sundwall collected 6,730 signatures. He needed 3,500 to put his name on the ballot; the ruling left him 556 short.
While Sunderwall was never in serious contention to win, he polled anywhere from 1 to 4 percent in recent samples. It was generally felt that he was pulling most of his numbers away from Republican Jim Tedisco. Given the razor-thin margins in the last Siena polls, this could come as Manna from Heaven for Tedisco, who saw his lead cut from 12% in February to a dead heat this week.
The Republican’s staff was quick to assert that Tedisco had nothing to do with the challenges and he had no intention of driving Sunderwall out of the race.
Two Saratoga County residents — Laurie Kelly Sickles of Ballston Spa, a Republican, and Donald Neddo of Waterford, a Conservative — objected to more than 6,000 of Sundwall’s signatures. A candidate in the race or anyone registered to vote in the district may challenge a candidate’s nominating petitions.
Despite the objectors’ party affiliations, a spokesman for the Tedisco campaign said Republican candidate Jim Tedisco had nothing to do with trying to have Sundwall thrown off the ballot.
“Jim welcomed Mr. Sundwall to the race. His removal is a question for the board,” spokesman Adam Kramer said.
The election is four days. With the entire nation watching, this one seems to be coming down to the wire and Sunderwall’s voters may be set to have a disproportional effect on the race.