WATERTOWN — Russell J. Finley, a St. Lawrence County farmer and real estate broker running as a Conservative for the 116th Assembly District seat, has filed an opportunity to ballot petition to allow voters to write in his name on the Republican line.
John S. Humphrey, Brownville, and John L. Byrne III, Cape Vincent, also are running as Republicans in the race.
The winner of the Republican primary will face Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, in November.
Mr. Finley, who lives in Lisbon, issued a fiery statement Thursday afternoon, condemning the Republican Party establishment in the area for allegedly keeping him off the ballot.
“I was approached by several members of the Republican Party to be interviewed about my candidacy. A week later, I received an email from St. Lawrence County Republican Chairman not only telling me that I could not attend their meeting, but if I did I would be arrested! It is this type of threats, intimidation, and bullying that has not only stopped good people from running for office, but has dropped our numbers of people who actually vote to roughly 30%,” Mr. Finley wrote in the statement.
Thomas L. Jenison, chairman of the St. Lawrence County Republican Party, said he told Mr. Finley that meetings of the full committee were open only to committee members and registered Republicans invited at the chairman’s discretion.
“He kept insisting it was an open meeting,” Mr. Jenison said. “He kept insisting he was coming.”
Mr. Jenison said he told Mr. Finley, a registered Conservative, that he had notified the authorities that anyone who came to the meeting who wasn’t a committee member or a registered Republican invited by the chairman would be escorted out of the meeting.
Mr. Jenison pointed out that any name can be written on the line now that Mr. Finley has filed the opportunity to ballot petitions.
“Any Republican who goes to the primary can write any name that they wish,” he said.
Mr. Finley said that he and a small team collected 115 Conservative signatures, which were filed last week, and 626 Republican signatures in 19 days.
According to state election law, for the Republican or Democratic Party line for the Assembly, 500 signatures are required. For other parties, petitions must be signed by 5 percent of the active enrolled voters in the district.
As of April 1, there were 961 active Conservative Party members and 3,952 active Independence Party members enrolled in the 116th Assembly District.
Mr. Byrne, who submitted petitions to be listed on the Conservative line, said Thursday that he had not yet received any word from the state Conservative Party about being granted a Wilson-Pakula to run on both the Republican and Conservative line.
“I think it’s healthy for the voters to have a choice and I commend him (Mr. Finley) ... I commend anyone who runs; you’re putting yourself through the meat grinder just to give the voters an option,” Mr. Byrne said.