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"Someone once said that in New York there are the incumbents and everybody else. I represent everybody else."

Associated Press
Friday, February 2, 1996
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Lawyers for Republican presidential hopefuls Steve Forbes and Pat Buchanan were in state court Friday, trying to ensure that Bob Dole would face a real Republican primary challenge in New York. "If the Dole forces have their way, in many places there will be no choice," warned Buchanan lawyer John Klotz in a hearing before state Supreme Court Justice Joseph Harris. While the state and local boards of elections have ruled that Forbes is on the March 7 primary ballot in 28 of the state's 31 congressional districts, the Dole camp has gone to court trying to throw him off in some of those. Forbes, meanwhile, is in court seeking to expand the number of districts he is on the ballot in. Forbes' battle in New York has taken on new importance. The millionaire publisher from neighboring New Jersey has surged in the polls and, according to several, is now neck-and-neck with Dole in New Hampshire. That state's first-in-the-nation primary is just 2 1/2 weeks away. For his part, conservative firebrand Buchanan is trying to get on the ballot in more than the 12 New York districts the election boards say he has qualified in. Friday's court hearings before Harris, and others this week in New York City, mark a new round in what can be a lengthy battle to get on the ballot in New York, the state with the nation's toughest ballot access laws. Decisions in the cases at the Supreme Court level, New York's trial court, are expected next week. Some of the cases are almost certain to reach the state Court of Appeals, New York's highest tribunal, later this month. The leaders of New York's Republican Party, including U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato and Gov. George Pataki, are backing Dole's candidacy and refused to ease the state election law to make it easier for Forbes, Buchanan and others to get on the ballot. Given the time and expense of qualifying, everyone but Forbes and Buchanan conceded New York to Dole who is on the ballot in all 31 congressional districts. "Someone once said that in New York there are the incumbents and everybody else, I represent everybody else," Buchanan's Klotz told Harris at Friday's hearing. New York has, in effect, separate GOP primaries in each of the state's 31 congressional districts. To qualify for the ballot, candidates must collect the signatures of at least 1,250 Republicans in most districts. In some New York City area districts, where there are few Republicans, candidates are required to collect the signatures of 5 percent of party members who live there. Klotz said Friday that the requirements were too burdensome and that candidates should be allowed on the ballot if they collect the signatures of just 0.5percent of the registered party members in each district. "Ballot access really is the foundation of democracy," the judge told Klotz, quickly adding that the lawyer shouldn't take that to mean he would windup with a favorable ruling. In fact, lawyers for Dole argued that Klotz hadn't filed his lawsuit properly and that it should be thrown out. Lawyers for Forbes argued in court that the state Board of Elections was too harsh in applying primary petition rules against their candidate in a Westchester County area congressional district. They asked Harris to place Forbes on the ballot there.

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