East End meets Western New York in Riverhead ballot ruling

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A legal battle impacting political races in Buffalo and Suffolk was waged in state Supreme Court Friday over a Working Families candidate, who was running both for an upstate state senate seat and a local state supreme court judgeship and failed to decline either line.

After a two hour hearing, State Supreme court Justice Gerard Garguilo in Riverhead Friday knocked Working Families Party candidate Gregory Davis from Erie County off the ballot for judge but left him on the minor party ballot line upstate for State Senate.

The dispute revolved around the high profile battle for the 60th district senate seat where veteran Republican incumbent Mark Grisanti, who backed the state’s new same sex marriage law, which made him a target of a GOP primary, which he won.

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After the primary, the Working Families Party moved to give its Senate ballot line to Democrat Michael Amodeo by installing its original contender Davis, a lawyer, as candidate for state Supreme Court justice on Long Island, 400 miles away.

In his ruling, Garguilo removed Davis’ name from the Supreme Court race because he failed to decline the judicial nomination as required within three days but left him as as Senate contender because the deadline for declining that nomination had gone by in July.

State law bars contenders from runningfor two elected offices at the same time.
The Working Families Party, in its suit, had sought to remove Davis from the ballot entirely. Democratic State Supreme Court contender Richard Ambro, son of the late Rep. Jerry Ambro (D-Huntington), is now seeking to get the minor party’s ballot line for judge. Joe Dinkins, Working Families Party spokesman, declined immediate comment on whether the party will appeal Garguilo’s ruling to leave Davis on the ballot as a Senate candidate.

Vincent Messina, Republican attorney for one of the judges, said he will appeal.

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