A candidate for the 60th District State Senate seat claims that Republican and Conservative party bosses are trying to intimidate him into abandoning his quest for the seat.
Kevin T. Stocker sent a letter last week to the U.S. Justice Department, the state Attorney General’s Office and the FBI, asking for an investigation into what he called “underhanded and illegal tactics” that he alleges are being used to keep him off the ballot.
Stocker, a Town of Tonawanda attorney, said several of his supporters have told him that they were recently visited at their homes by political operatives or private investigators trying to intimidate them into signing statements swearing that they improperly signed ballot petitions for Stocker.
He said one of the visitors identified himself as an FBI agent while trying to convince a woman to sign such a statement.
“The party bosses don’t like the fact that I am challenging them … and trying to get on the ballot as a write-in candidate,” Stocker said.
Ralph C. Lorigo, chairman of the county’s Conservative Party, said Stocker’s claims are “totally untrue.”
“I certainly have not hired anyone to go into anyone’s house to check petitions. I haven’t hired any private investigators,” Lorigo said.
“It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if people are out checking petitions. People do check petitions for legal and valid reasons, to make sure they are authentic,” Lorigo said.
Nicholas A. Langworthy, the county’s Republican Party chairman, was described by an aide as attending a meeting and could not be reached for comment.
Lorigo said he had discussed Stocker’s allegations with Langworthy, and according to Lorigo, Langworthy also denies the allegations.
Stocker is seeking to be a write-in candidate for the Republican and Conservative parties. Both Republicans and Conservatives have endorsed Erie County Clerk Christopher Jacobs, who is seeking the seat being vacated by Democrat Marc C. Panepinto.
Stocker ran for the same State Senate seat in 2014 and was narrowly defeated by Panepinto in a three-way race in the general election.
The race for the 60th District seat is considered pivotal in determining the balance of power in the State Senate.