The five remaining candidates in the 23rd Congressional District Democratic primary all filed nominating petitions with the state Board of Elections — each with more than 2,000 signatures prior to Thursday’s deadline.
In order to get on the June 26 primary ballot, candidates need to submit nominating petitions with 1,250 signatures of enrolled Democratic voters in the 11-county congressional district.
As late as Jan. 1, there were eight candidates for the Democratic nomination to run against U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, who was first elected to Congress in 2010.
Candidate Tracy Mitrano of Penn Yan, a former university administrator who owns an Ithaca cyber security firm, reported filing petitions with the most signatures, 5,300, more than four times the number needed.
She said the 5,300 signatures represented more than half the votes cast in the district’s last Democratic congressional primary.
Mitrano also has the endorsement from regional Working Families Party leaders and the Women’s Equality Party, which would give her a second and third line on the November ballot if she wins the Democratic primary.
The other four candidates submitted petitions with between 2,800 and 2,000 signatures.
Jamestown attorney Eddie Sundquist submitted 2,021 signatures, Ithaca businessman Ian Golden reported submitting 2,800 signatures and retired surgeon Dr. Linda Andrei of Ithaca and Max Della Pia of Owego, a retired Air Force officer, congressional aide and attorney, each submitted around 2,100 signatures.
The candidates all thanked the volunteers who helped obtain the signatures. Now, more volunteers will start poring over the nominating petitions of other candidates looking for enough duplicate or other invalid signatures in a bid to disqualify a candidate.
The state Board of Elections has until May 4 to certify the petitions.
A spokesman for Cattaraugus County Democratic Party Chairman Frank Puglisi said Sundquist, the candidate backed by the Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Allegany County Democratic committees, submitted nearly 800 more signatures than needed.
“Any more work to try to pad your total signatures is unnecessary,” the spokesman said. “It’s a waste of volunteer resources. The only vote that’s going to count is the primary on June 26.”
Sundquist, who was a teacher in the Philadelphia schools before returning to Western New York and attending law school at the University at Buffalo, said in a statement, “This strong showing in petitions shows that the district is ready for a new generation of leadership in Washington. … I have shown throughout the campaign that I am the candidate to bring jobs back to the Southern Tier and it is clear that that message is resonating with the voters of the 23rd District. I will continue to work tirelessly to win this primary and give the people of this district someone who will finally represent their interests in Congress.”
Andrei said her message, “‘For the health of our country, elect a doctor’ is clearly resonating. I am excited by the opportunity to meet as many voters as I can over the next few months and hear directly from them how our government has been letting this district down, and how we should go about turning things around.”
Della Pia said, “As a Democratic Party, there is no more important choice to make than who we select to challenge Tom Reed. The outpouring of support for my candidacy from our dedicated volunteers helping to secure my place on the June ballot is humbling. Though, petitioning is more than getting a candidate on the ballot, it’s the first step in an aggressive field program.”
Golden issued a statement saying he looks forward to the primary.
“I think much of the division we’re seeing at a national level is caused by discontent and pain here at home,” Golden said. “I’m focused on being here, on the ground, talking to people of all parties and beliefs, and finding ways to move us all forward together. Petitioning enabled so many conversations, and those moments of genuine connection are what we’ve all been missing in our communities. Now it’s my job to make sure I bring the substance and follow-through to those ideas.”
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)