This week, the odds of a three-way mayoral race in November dwindled to almost nothing and the stakes in next month’s Democratic primary got higher than ever.
On Monday, Aug. 18 the state elections deadline for forming independent political parties passed. Neither incumbent Mayor Shayne Gallo nor challenger Steve Noble filed paperwork to add a new line to the November ballot. Meanwhile, Gallo’s bid to run on the Independence and Conservative party lines hangs on a long-shot appeal in state Supreme Court. (UPDATE: On Aug. 20, the court denied Gallo’s appeal, confirming his absence from the Conservative and Independence lines.)
“There wasn’t enough time,” said Gallo of the petition process to create a new party line for himself. The mayor needed 308 signatures of registered voters who hadn’t signed another mayoral candidate’s petition to form the party and get the line on the Nov. 3 ballot. “It made more sense to dedicate our resources and our focus on the [Democratic] primary.”
Gallo is facing a tough primary challenge from Noble in his bid for a second four-year term; Noble took the party’s endorsement at the city Democratic convention in May. The incumbent had hoped that the Independence and Conservative party lines could provide a fallback position in the event of a loss in the Democratic primary. Both Gallo and Republican candidate Ron Polacco received authorization from party officials to run on the minor party lines. Gallo, however, failed to file an acceptance letter in time to win a spot in the Independence and Conservative primaries. Gallo blamed the failure on the county Board of Elections for mailing the acceptance forms late and claimed in court that a postage meter stamp dated the day of the deadline should suffice even though an official postmark is dated the day after. A lower court has already rejected the reasoning; an appellate panel is expected to rule later this week. But Gallo said his own campaign attorney, city Corporation Counsel Andrew Zweben, had described the appeal as a long shot.
If the appeals panel does not reverse the lower court decision, Polacco will go into the November race with the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines. His opponent will be the winner of the Democratic primary between Gallo and Noble. There remains a write-in “Opportunity to Ballot” for the Green Party line. But Gallo is not actively seeking the support of Kingston’s 70 Greens.
The breakdown in the ballot lines makes a three-way race in November unlikely. Polacco will now face a single Democratic candidate in a city where Democrats hold a large enrollment advantage. Republicans constitute just 2,041 of the city’s electorate compared to 4,942 Democrats. There are 4,606 non party affiliated voters in the city.