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Gilbert, and possibly Hassig, out of 21st CD race

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Joseph R. Gilbert, DeKalb Junction, has pulled out of the race for the 21st Congressional District — at least for now.

He did not file petitions with the state Board of Elections by Thursday’s deadline. He said this morning that he has left the race, but whether it is for good is still up in the air.

He said neither petition nor organizational problems led to his failure to file.

“It was a family based decision,” Mr. Gilbert said.

Because there is a June deadline for independent petitions to be filed, Mr. Gilbert said he would continue to explore the race until then. However, the requirements for gaining a spot on the ballot as an independent are far more rigorous than seeking a party designation.

Another St. Lawrence County candidate, Green Party hopeful Donald L. Hassig, Colton, was also missing from the list of petitioners who had filed by the deadline.

Under election law, petitions carrying a postmark of April 10 or before will be honored if they are received today. This is going to present a problem for Mr. Hassig, who said this morning that he had gathered 61 signatures, six more than the required number, and mailed the petitions Thursday.

Mr. Hassig said he did not expect the petitions to arrive at the Board of Elections until Saturday, meaning the board won’t actually receive them until Monday. That, a Board of Elections spokesman said, will be too late. as of 4:58 Friday, Mr. Hassig’s petitions had not reached the board.

“The federal elections rules are pretty clear. If it’s mailed in time but not received the next day, we can’t count them,” he said.

If Mr. Hassig’s petitions don’t somehow get into the Board of Elections hands today, he will be forced to seek a court order for them to be accepted. There is no guarantee that would work, since the rules were published long ago.

It thus appears that Green Party candidate Matthew J. Funiciello has an excellent chance of appearing on the November ballot without the need of winning a primary.

Outside of Mr. Gilbert and Mr. Hassig, the state Board of Elections website shows most of the expected players have filed their petitions. Democrat Stephen W. Burke, Macomb, filed just a little over 1,300 names on Thursday; also filing on the deadline was Matthew A. Doheny, who submitted petitions for the Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines Thursday.

And the expected objections to petitions have begun already. Filed so far are six objections to Elise M. Stefanik petitions on all three party lines for which she filed — Republican, Conservative and Independent. Gertrude S. Daly and Jason Clark have filed objections to the Republican Party petitions, Harold F. Staudenmayer and Mr. Clark have filed objections to the Conservative Party filing and Karen Schue baruth and Jason Clark have filed objections to the Independence party filing.

Mrs. Clark and Ms. Daly on Friday filed objections to Matthew J. Funiciello’s Green Party petitions.

The objections will carry no weight unless they are followed within six days with specific challenges, which are usually based on alleged problems with witnesses, signers or procedures. For example, part of a petition would be rejected if the witness to the signatures were not either a notary public, or a member of the party the petition is being carried for.

While Ms. Stefanik’s petitions are the most high profile ones with objections to date, it is certain that others will be filed within the next three days. How many of the objections will turn into challenges depends largely on what the campaign experts find as they pore over sheet after sheet of petitions. Candidates who have barely met the minimum number of signatures face the greatest risks.

With that in mind, Mr. Burke appears to be most at risk. A successful challenge to 75 of his signatures would keep him off the primary ballot. The other candidates have far exceeded the number of signatures required.

— PLW

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