One-time congressional candidate Jon Powers threw himself into Alice J. Kryzan's race for Congress on Monday -- and it couldn't have come at a better time for the Democrat's campaign.
The two former rivals teamed up for four campaign events across the 26th District on the same day that an Albany judge ruled that Powers' name must stay on the ballot as the Working Families Party candidate, even though he is no longer in the race.
The court decision is considered a major blow to Kryzan's campaign, because it gives voters a third option beyond the two major party candidates who are at each other's throats in ads that are saturating the district.
But Powers said voters who supported him in his primary battle with Kryzan and industrialist Jack Davis should now vote for Kryzan.
"We've stopped campaigning for the seat, and we're going to support Alice," Powers said, noting that his onetime supporters could provide "critical votes" in Kryzan's race against Republican Chris Lee.
The court decision means that Lee will have three ballot lines, while Kryzan will have one. Nevertheless, Kryzan downplayed the importance of the ruling.
"I'm keeping my head down and focusing on getting my message out, regardless of the decision," she said.
But Anne Robinson Wadsworth, senior campaign adviser to the Kryzan campaign, had harsh words for the decision.
"This is nothing more than the Republican machine's attempt to make a mockery of the Democratic process," she said.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Kimberly A. O'Connor ruled that Working Families' attempt to substitute Kryzan for Powers did not meet election law requirements.
Democrats and Working Families officials maintained that because Powers moved to Washington, D.C., to take a new job, he no longer met the constitutional requirement of living in New York to be able to run for Congress.
But Republicans objected, pointing to the late date and the fact that absentee and military ballots were already distributed.
The judge found no basis to remove Powers from the line.
"The time for such challenges has long passed," O'Connor wrote. "While Powers has chosen employment that currently has him working outside the State of New York, the law does not provide for a mechanism to have his name taken off the ballot at this late date."
The judge also said that while the Constitution calls for a congressional candidate to live in the state in which he seeks office at the time of election, Powers' relocation only "suggests" he will live in Washington on Election Day and does not preclude the possibility that he could move back and resume his candidacy on the Working Families line.
The Kryzan campaign said Monday that it is still studying the decision and has not yet decided whether it will appeal.
Meanwhile, the two former rivals teamed up for a show of unity at events in Batavia, Amherst and the eastern part of the district.
Kryzan said she was thrilled that Powers was campaigning with her.
"I can't tell you how pleased I am to have Jon's support," she said. "He's right. We got into this race for the same reasons."
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