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