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‘Tea partyers’ to petition for new ballot line

By Brian Meyer
Updated: June 14, 2010, 7:20 am
Published: June 14, 2010, 12:30 am

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Organizers of the “tea party” movement are poised to mount a statewide petition drive in hopes of creating a new line on the November election ballot.

The goal is to give “disaffected, aggravated, frustrated voters” an alternative to choosing between the “lesser of two evils,” Rus Thompson, leader of the local tea party, said Sunday in referring primarily to the major party nominees for governor, Democrat Andrew M. Cuomo and Republican Rick Lazio.

Thompson was outside Binghamton in Broome County to promote Buffalo developer Carl P. Paladino’s bid for governor and discuss efforts to create a new ballot line. Thompson, a Grand Island resident, said decisions by the Independence and Conservative parties to “rebuff” Paladino’s candidacy are spurring the drive to create a new line for November.

Thompson said supporters believe that Paladino will defeat Lazio in the September GOP primary. “But you cannot win a statewide election for governor or basically any other [statewide] office without a minor party line,” he said.

Supporters will need to collect at least 15,000 signatures to secure a new line, but Thompson is aiming to amass between 40,000 and 50,000 signatures statewide.

“You have no idea the energy that’s in these tea party groups,” Thompson said. He acknowledged that there’s concern even among some tea party backers that a new ballot line may set the stage for people serving as “spoiler” candidates in the fall. Thompson insisted that this won’t happen because candidates would have to secure a major party line. “If you lose the [major party] primary, that [new] line disappears. You will not run as a spoiler,” he said. “We will not run as a third party spoiler candidate. That’s a promise that we’re making to every group.”

Supporters will be asked to vote on a name for the new line in the near future, Thompson said. “Right now, we have 300 names that we have to sift through. Then we’ll have a vote on it,” he said. “Probably next week, we’ll put them all up on the Web site and let people vote on the name.”