By ANDREA VanVALKENBURG

Staff Writer

PLATTSBURGH -- It's still a three-way race for the 114th Assembly District seat, but Conservative candidate David Kimmel will not appear on the Republican line, following a ruling this week.

The State Supreme Court ruling means there won't be a Republican primary in September between Kimmel and incumbent Republican Assemblywoman Janet Duprey.

Kimmel is still running for the seat and will be on the ballot in November on the Conservative line, with Duprey seeking re-election on the Republican and Independence lines.

Rudy Johnson of Malone is the Democratic candidate.

CHALLENGE

The decision followed a lawsuit filed by Duprey and three of her supporters -- Earl Sears, Gary Decelle and Mary Hollinshead -- that challenged Kimmel's Republican petitions of 1,200 signatures for a lack of legal specificity on the title of office he was seeking.

The challenge also listed 56 other alleged flaws with some of the petitions, such as problems with dates or signatures.

WORDING

At issue during a Monday hearing that addressed the challenges was the wording on Kimmel's petition, which read "114th New York State Assembly."

Case law supported a more specific title, listing the sought position as "Member of the Assembly, 114th Assembly District, State of New York."

"The judge ruled that his petitions were inadequate because they did not contain the position he was running for," Duprey said Friday.

"The guidelines are very clear."

Duprey did not attend the hearing but was represented by attorney James E. Walsh.

During the hearing, Kimmel said, Duprey's attorney voluntarily withdrew the 56 lesser challenges, leaving only the case law at issue.

POSITION NEEDED

Based on existing case law, the ruling found that "simply denoting the geographic territory without reference to the title of the public office or position is not sufficiently informative ... so as to preclude any reasonable probability of (voter confusion)."

Acting Supreme Court Justice Gerald Connolly found that while Kimmel's petition title clearly designated reference to the Assembly District, "the absence of the description 'Member of Assembly' in designating petitions for such public offices -- though doubtless based upon the good-faith assumption by those titling the petition that describing the public office solely by the Assembly District was sufficient to fairly identify the office sought -- has repeatedly led to the result of the declared invalidity of designating positions."

MOVING ON

Duprey said she was pleased with the ruling and plans to now "concentrate on the November election. And I'm going to work just as hard to campaign."

With a busy Assembly schedule, she said, "this takes some pressure off certainly and extends the time frame I can get out and discuss the issues."

Both candidates said the decision also alleviates a significant campaign expense.

Kimmel said he will "drive on for the November election.

"And the marvelous thing about running a true grassroots campaign is that I'm not loaded with money from the big party, and it gives me the opportunity to make the people my special interest and not a party."

He said he plans to reach out to voters with a "common-sense message" he thinks will resonate with many.

But, Kimmel said he was dismayed that the voices of 1,200 voters were "silenced" by the ruling.

"It can't erase the fact that a very significant number of voters in the Republican Party said they wanted a primary."

E-mail Andrea VanValkenburg at: avanvalkenburg@pressrepublican.com

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