Andrew Russo’s future on the Taxpayers line looks bleak.
The Republican running in the 49th Senate District submitted petitions to appear on the Taxpayers line – a line Republicans, including GOP gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino, are using to appeal to tea party activists in New York.
But state Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin on Friday said that 1,448 of the 4,132 signatures Russo submitted were found to be invalid by a bipartisan team at the board responsible for reviewing petitions, putting Russo below the 3,000 signatures he needed to get on the independent ballot line.
The hearing official overseeing this case will recommend invalidating the signatures and removing Russo from the Taxpayer line, Conklin said. An official decision will be made when the state election commissioners meet Sept. 16.
Russo was upbeat Friday, despite the fate of his petitions, saying the process allowed his campaign to reach out to voters.
“We knew going into the process it was going to be a challenge to qualify for the line,” he said. “Our volunteer base was drained from petition efforts in June and July and a lot of them signed petitions, so it was tricky. The worst case scenario was we fall short, but we built a lot of relationships in the process.”
Once petitions are submitted there is a three-day period for general objections to be filed and then six more days for specific objections. In the general and specific objection phase, Terrance Lattimore, a Democrat and Owasco town councilman, filed objections to Russo’s Taxpayer line petitions.
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“Flipping through the petitions, the most common complaint was that the voter was not in the right district and that the address was outside of the 49th Senate District,” Conklin said.
The campaign for state Sen. David Valesky, the incumbent Russo hopes to unseat in November, criticized Russo for what they called “faulty petitions.”
“We knew he had no idea how to actually vote, but now see he doesn’t know election law, and has no clue who is in this senate district. It is more than a little disturbing,” Valesky campaign coordinator Cort Ruddy said.
Russo’s GOP primary opponent, Dan Liedka, said it was not surprising to him because of an encounter he said happened at a grocery store.
“I walked into a P & C and there were people standing there collecting signatures. When I asked for what, they said it was for the Taxpayers line. They just told people to sign,” he said.
A win in the primary Tuesday will give Russo two ballot lines. He has already been backed by the Conservative Party.