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Narrow Seneca Party win fuels charges and counter-charges

Robert Odawi Porter, barred by tradition from seeking another term as Seneca Nation president, won the official Seneca Party nomination for treasurer by three votes Friday, and opponents already were crying foul on Saturday.

Porter won the sanctioned Seneca Party nomination for treasurer, outpolling challenger Rickey L. Armstrong Sr. , 379 to 376. Meanwhile, Richard Nephew ran unopposed for his party's presidential nomination.

Seneca Party factions headed by Porter and Barry Snyder Sr. had vastly different interpretations of the daylong party caucus held Friday by Porter's faction, the "officially sanctioned and recognized" Seneca Party.

Scott A. Snyder, chairman of the "original" Seneca Party in the Cattaraugus Territory, suggested that Porter's narrow three-vote victory sent a strong message.

"He didn't do what he promised to do as president of the Seneca Nation," Scott Snyder said. "The people have voiced their opinion about his leadership. They don't want his leadership anymore."

Porter strongly disagreed.

"I'm actually pretty happy," he said Saturday of his narrow victory. "They had three weeks to try to knock me out of the game."

Porter said he had been concerned about two factors. First, there was no contest at the top of the caucus ticket, leading to a lower voter turnout. And Friday's vote was an open caucus, "so that means all of Barry's people voted for my opponent."

Scott Snyder, from the other faction, claimed that about 80 legitimate voters were turned away at the polls.

"They were not loyal to Rob Porter," he said. "That's what happens when you're a dictator."

But a spokeswoman for Porter's faction said that only three voters were turned away. One was on the other Seneca Party ticket, another one was clearly aligned with Barry Snyder, and the third eventually was allowed to vote.

This spokesperson also denied the Snyder faction's claim that there was some vote buying going on outside Friday's caucus.

"There was no vote buying, no money changing hands," the spokeswoman said. "We know that Barry Snyder is famous for vote buying."

Asked about the other side's claims over voter turnaways and vote buying, this spokeswoman replied, "I think Barry and Scott are grasping at straws."

The Seneca Nation will hold its general election on Nov. 6. The Nation elects a president every two years, and that office rotates between the Cattaraugus and Allegany territories. This year the president's office will be held by a Seneca citizen from the Cattaraugus territory.

Porter's faction sent out a news release late Friday, also stating that Geraldine Huff, from the Cattaraugus Territory, ran unopposed on the Seneca Party ticket for clerk and will seek her third term.

Twelve candidates from Cattaraugus ran in the caucus, each seeking the nomination for one of four Cattaraugus Council seats, according to the release. The four nominated to run for the Council seats were Jeff Gill, 496 votes; Klint Nephew, 449; Christine Jimerson, 380; and Charles Scanlan, 276. Winning the nomination to seek the Allegany Council seats were Diane Kennedy with 511 votes, Trishelle John-Murphy 478, Stephen Maybee 366 and Andrew Rozler 310.