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Party chairman withdraws challenge of Owens’s third-party petitions

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Donald F. Lee said his lawsuit against Rep. William L. Owens’s attempts to get a third-party ballot line would have won on the merits.

There was just one problem. The law states Mr. Lee couldn’t be the one to challenge that effort, so the lawsuit was withdrawn Tuesday, clearing the way for Mr. Owens to appear in November on the Working Families Party line.

“It’s a technical error on my part,” said Mr. Lee, who, as a party chairman, could not file a judicial challenge against a candidate’s petitions if there was no contested primary. “The reasons for the challenge and the suit were valid. The person doing the challenge can’t be me.”

Mr. Lee is the GOP chairman in Clinton County, and a supporter of Republican Matthew A. Doheny in his effort to unseat Mr. Owens, a Plattsburgh Democrat, on Nov. 6.

“We were confident our Working Families signatures would stand,” Owens campaign manager James Hannaway said in an email message. “Now we can continue to visit every corner of the district, spreading our positive message of job creation.”

Third-party lines can make or break a candidacy in tight elections, as the race for the 21st Congressional District of New York is destined to be.

Mr. Owens beat Mr. Doheny by about 2,000 votes in 2010; he took more than 6,000 votes on the labor-backed Working Families Party line that year.

Mr. Doheny has secured the Independence and Conservative parties’ nominations. He will face Kellie A. Greene in a Republican primary June 26. No other avenues to challenge a candidate’s third-party ballot status exist.

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