Bill Bass will end his pursuit of the Democratic nomination in the 24th Congressional District race and form his own ballot line to challenge U.S. Rep. John Katko in the general election.
Bass, who launched his congressional campaign in January, announced his plans Monday. Over the weekend, he submitted a letter to the four county Democratic chairs in the district informing them of his decision to bow out of the Democratic primary race.
In a phone interview Monday, Bass explained that he opted to withdraw from the primary contest after he learned the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is assisting Juanita Perez Williams, a Democrat who entered the race last week.
"I just didn't think it was fair that they were interfering — that they were pushing their own candidate," Bass said.
Bass was one of four Democrats who sought the party's designation earlier this year. The four county Democratic committees in the district backed Dana Balter, an activist and Syracuse University professor, to challenge Katko, a two-term Republican congressman.
After Balter won the designation, Bass the only other candidate to remain in the race. Two others, Scott Comegys and Anne Messenger, dropped out.
Bass's decision to no longer seek the Democratic nomination came on the first day candidates may submit petitions to appear on the June 26 primary ballot. To secure a spot on the ballot, you must submit at least 1,250 valid signatures.
When asked if he collected enough signatures to qualify for the primary, Bass said that he had. But he again cited the DCCC's involvement in the race as the reason why he is no longer interested in seeking the Democratic nod.
"I don't want to try and get the nomination of a party I don't believe in anymore," he said.
Instead of vying for the Democratic nomination, Bass plans to run an independent campaign and will form his own ballot line.
To run as an independent candidate, he will need to submit at least 3,500 valid signatures. The deadline to file the independent nominating petitions is July 31.
"We don't think that the two-party system is really working anymore so we're going to try and work around it," Bass said.
With Bass exiting the primary race, it leaves Balter and Perez Williams as the only Democratic candidates in the field. According to multiple sources, Balter has collected more than 8,000 signatures to appear on the June 26 primary ballot. Perez Williams is working to collect the 1,250 signatures she needs to qualify for the primary.
The deadline to submit petitions is Thursday.