State Sen. Jim Seward will have opponents after all.
Jim Blake, a Republican, and Howard Leib, a Democrat, will appear on the ballot after their designating petitions were ruled valid by the New York State Board of Elections.
Blake is challenging Seward for the Republican nomination. While he was pleased his petitions were validated, Blake wasn't happy with the objections.
In July, Blake submitted more than 1,300 signatures to the state Board of Elections. Nearly half of the signatures were challenged, but not enough signatures were tossed out to remove Blake from the ballot. (The candidates needed to collect 1,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot.)
"It's a game to keep the incumbents in. It's a very, very sad state of affairs," Blake said of the challenges.
Blake added in an email: "Our campaign submitted far more than the required number of signatures and we never doubted they would stand scrutiny. While challenging petitions is a standard political maneuver when the number of signatures is marginal, given the number and percentage of signatures beyond the minimum required that we submitted, this challenge had the markings of a political strategy aimed to deprive Republicans of a long unavailable choice of candidates through a primary."
Leib, who will appear on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines, said he hopes all the candidates can move on and now talk about issues important to the district and the state.
"This cost me time, this cost me money and this cost me resources," Leib said of the challenges to his petitions. "I suspect that was part of the goal, both for myself and for Mr. Blake, was to tie us up with things like that. But Mr. Seward now has to actually deal with an opponent on the ballot. Something he clearly did not want to have to do."
There are two scenarios that could play out. One is Seward wins the Republican nomination -- there's a good chance he will do that -- and faces Leib in the general election. The other is Blake wins the GOP primary, which would set up a three-way race in the 51st District. Blake would have the GOP line, Seward would have the Conservative and Independence lines and Leib would appear on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines.
Either way, there will be a race in the 51st District.