ALBANY — The field in the 19th Congressional District race was reduced by one after the state Board of Elections ruled Thursday that Luisa Parker, an independent candidate from Callicoon, filed an invalid number of petitions to get on the November ballot.
Other independent candidates are also facing challenges from the same source — Rhinebeck Democratic Committee member Rima Liscum.
Parker announced her candidacy in March, running as an independent on her own line called Making the Impossible Possible.
Candidates were required to file petitions at the end of July to make it on the ballot, and the three independent candidates — Parker, “Law and Order: SVU” star Diane Neal of Hurley and film producer Dal LaMagna of Rhinebeck — had to file a minimum of 3,000 signatures.
The state Board of Elections considered specific objections filed by Liscum against Parker’s petitions at its meeting Wednesday, concluding that Parker had not filed a sufficient number of signatures to be on the ballot this year. Rhinebeck Democrats are backing Democratic primary winner Antonio Delgado, who lives in Rhinebeck.
Liscum filed a general objection to the petitions last week, but was required to provide the state Board of Elections with specific objections by Thursday.
“Even assuming that every signature submitted is valid, the petition contains 1,906 fewer signatures than is statutorily required,” according to Liscum’s complaint against Parker. “As a result, the independent nomination for Luisa Parker is invalid and she cannot appear on the ballot for the November 2018 election.”
After reviewing the specific objections the state Board of Elections determined without a hearing that Parker filed 1,601 petitions, far below the required number.
Parker has three days to appeal the board’s decision. Her campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
Liscum sent specific objections for both LaMagna and Neal’s campaigns Thursday, claiming multiple petition signatures the candidates filed in July are invalid.
The objection claims that of the 4,181 petition signatures Neal filed, 2,941 are invalid for not meeting certain criteria.
“America is a democracy of its people with laws, checks and balances,” said Diane Neal’s mother Colleen Neal, in response to the decision in Parker’s case. “If one is going to represent NY-19 then that person must abide by the law. Diane Neal will always work within the law to represent her constituents.”
Delgado’s campaign manager, Allyson Marcus, echoed Neal’s response.
“Getting on the ballot is tough and takes work,” Marcus said. “Everyone running for public office should be required to play by the same rules.”
LaMagna stressed that in the face of these challenges, the independent candidates will support one another, saying if one candidate survives the inquisition, the other two candidates will help that candidate moving forward.
“Objections were filed against all three of us,” LaMagna said. “I’d be surprised if they find any invalid signatures in my filing, because we checked the signatures.”
LaMagna filed 4,137 petition signatures, he said.
Of the signatures filed by LaMagna, Liscum alleges that 2,684 are invalid for not meeting specific criteria.
“I think the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] is behind these objections,” LaMagna said. “They are trying to get me and two women off the ballot and the Democratic Party is supposed to stand for ballot access. Hypocrisy is hypocrisy.”
The DCCC did not respond to requests for comment.
The state Board of Elections is reviewing the objections and a ruling may be made at the board’s next meeting Sept. 11.
“It’s a large petition and there are two separate sets of objections so it will take a few days,” said John Conklin, director of public information for the state Board of Elections. “Because this is an independent nomination, it determines whether the candidate will be on the general election ballot, so there is plenty of time to follow our normal procedures.”