A month after receiving the support of three parties to run for state Assembly, Kenneth Bush III abruptly dropped out of the race.
Bush, a Republican, was the first declared candidate after Assemblyman Gary Finch announced his retirement in early February. Several GOP contenders emerged, but Bush won the support of the party's committees in Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland and Onondaga counties.
But according to Republican and Conservative party leaders in the district, Bush decided to end his campaign. After filing his petitions last week, he submitted paperwork to the state Board of Elections to decline the party nominations in the 126th Assembly District.
Bush did not respond to requests for comment.
Onondaga County Republican Chairman Tom Dadey and Onondaga County Conservative Party Chairman Russ Johnson told The Citizen Wednesday that Bush exited the race for personal reasons.
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"I thank him for pursuing the opportunity," Johnson said. "I understand the family dynamics and family should come first."
With Bush declining the designations, committees to fill vacancies identified on his petitions have the authority to replace him with another candidate. Dadey said Republicans will consider three candidates for designation: LaFayette Supervisor Danny Fitzpatrick, who sought the GOP endorsement and decided to force a primary against Bush, former Onondaga County Legislator Michael Plochocki and John Lemondes, a retired U.S. Army colonel who was a candidate for Congress in 2014.
According to Johnson, the Conservative Party has already selected Lemondes to take Bush's place on its ballot line.
Cayuga County GOP Chairwoman Roberta Massarini, who is on the committee to fill a vacancy, said Tuesday that Republican leaders will meet this week to evaluate the candidates. Monday is the deadline for vacancies to be filled, according to the state Board of Elections.
If Republicans choose Fitzpatrick, there won't be a primary in the 126th district. If Lemondes or Plochocki is the choice, there will be a primary. Fitzpatrick has already filed petitions to appear on the June primary ballot.
The Republican nominee will face former Auburn City Councilor Dia Carabajal, a Democrat. Jermaine Bagnall-Graham, a Chenango County resident who ran for state Senate in 2016, is planning to run as an independent.
Republicans hope to retain the seat that Finch has held since 1999 when he won a special election. There are nearly 5,000 more active GOP voters than Democrats in the 126th district. A vast majority of all voters live in the district's two largest counties, Cayuga and Onondaga.
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.
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