Arcuri gets 2nd line, challenger Hanna has 3

Rep. Michael A. Arcuri, D-Utica, is getting a second line on the Nov. 2 ballot thanks to a court decision.

Arcuri is seeking a third term in the 24th District. Republican Challenger Richard L. Hanna of Barneveld also has the Independence and Conservative lines.

On Friday, a state Supreme Court justice ruled that Arcuri’s name could a appear on an independent line on the ballot despite a challenge from Hanna supporters.

Initially, Arcuri filed a petition with more than double the required 3,500 signatures to put his name on the ballot under the designation of "New York Moderates." Afterward, this label was changed to "Moderates" because the original one did not comply to state election law. The name change was made because a party name cannot use the words "American," ‘United States," "National," "New York State," "Empire State," or any abbreviation of them. The state Board of Elections determined that amending the party title to Moderates was a satisfactory way to fix the name problem. This in turn brought the legal challenge that sought to have the nominating petition declared invalid.

"Petitioners argue that the provisions regarding the name of an independent nominating body were enacted to prevent voters from being misled or confused first, in signing the nominating petition and second, in voting during the election. Petitioners maintain that while the change in party name allowed by the board addresses the concern about the election, the possibility remains that use of the words ‘New York’ on the petition may, by suggesting official status, influence a voter’s decision to sign the petition. Consequently, petitions contend, the board should have invalidated the petition," wrote Acting Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. McNamara.

In dismissing the challenge, McNamara concluded, "The remedy selected by the legislature for addressing instances where an improper name is selected, but no fraud is shown, is to require that the name be changed. Thus, under the circumstances presented here, the board acted properly."

"From the start, the purpose of the Moderates line was to give independent-minded voters an alternative to the scandal-ridden local Independence Party," said Arcuri in an e-mail statement released by his campaign. "Our volunteers worked hard to make sure that voters would have that choice on November 2nd, and the court’s decision ensures that they will."

Hanna’s campaign disputes how moderate Arcuri is.

"Anyone who votes with Nancy Pelosi 90 percent of the time is hardly moderate, and creating a phony party won’t change that," said press secretary Renee Gamela. Pelosi is the speaker of the Democrat-controlled House.

This year’s race in the 24th is a repeat of two years ago when Arcuri won his first re-election bid with about 52 percent of the vote to 48 percent for Hanna.