Efforts are under way to make Democrat Alice J. Kryzan the new candidate of the Working Families Party in the 26th Congressional District, giving her another line on the ballot in her campaign against Republican Christopher J. Lee.
But Republicans are already challenging the idea, claiming there is no constitutional basis to remove the designated candidate, Democrat Jon Powers, from the ballot.
"If they try to file a certificate of nomination claiming he is disqualified, the question is how can he be disqualified," said Ralph M. Mohr, Erie County's Republican elections commissioner.
Mohr said the only residency requirement posed by the Constitution for a member of the House of Representatives is that the candidate live in the state "at the time" of election. As a result, he contends that someone could be a resident at 9 p.m. on Election Day and qualify.
But since no preresidency requirement exists, Mohr said there is no basis to remove Powers from the ballot.
State Board of Elections officials said earlier Monday that moving out of state is one of only three ways -- along with death or election to higher office -- in which a congressional candidate can be removed from the ballot. But that was before Mohr raised the constitutional question about timing.
Still, Erie County Working Families Party Chairman James A. Duncan said Monday he expects Kryzan to take over the line because Powers has moved out of state. While the state Board of Elections had not yet received notification from Powers, Duncan said he expected it to arrive soon. "This certainly is an additional plus for Alice," he said.
He said he expects other Working Families officials in the district and the state party to approve the substitution.
Powers could not be reached to discuss his plans. He was an unsuccessful candidate in the September Democratic primary.
The move looms as especially important for Kryzan after Lee recently gained the Independence Party line when similar technical moves opened it for him. He also occupies the Conservative Party line.
Now, Kryzan occupies another line as a way for voters unwilling to pull the Democratic lever to support her.
"We would welcome the support of the Working Families Party," said Kryzan spokeswoman Anne Wadsworth.