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Cuomo ally stopped from running on Women's Equality Party line for key Senate seat

Barbara Fiala speaks at seat-belt safety event on

Barbara Fiala speaks at seat-belt safety event on July 19, 2012, when she was commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Credit: John Meore

ALBANY - One of the legal battles over the Women's Equality Party -- created by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last year to attract women voters away from Republican candidates -- is in Broome County, the seat that will help determine which party controls the Senate after the 2016 legislative elections.

The winner of the vacant Broome County seat in a special election this November would be an incumbent in the 2016 legislative elections. That would give the winner's party an edge going in the 2016 vote that will again test the Senate Republicans' razor-thin majority.

This week acting Supreme Court Justice Richard Platkin ruled that Democrat Barbara Fiala can't run on the Women's Equality Party line in addition to the Democratic line for the Senate seat in the traditionally Republican district. She is Cuomo's former motor vehicles commissioner and one-time chairman of the Women's Equality Party when it was controlled by Cuomo's allies.

The Nov. 3 election will fill the seat held by former Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous (R-Binghamton), who was convicted this year of lying to federal agents who were investigating a job Libous' son landed at a law firm. Libous had held the seat since 1989.

Fiala, a Democrat backed by Cuomo, trailed by 30 points in the race according to poll released earlier this week by Time-Warner and the Siena College Polling Institute.

The judge also ruled against six other Democrats in local races in Broome County.

"These Democrat candidates apparently thought that they get to play by a different set of rules than the rest of us," Broome Republican chairman Bijoy Datta said Wednesday. "But the Supreme Court saw otherwise; they can't game the system and run on Andrew Cuomo's bogus so-called Women's Equality line."

More than a dozen lawsuits are underway in counties statewide in which Republicans are contesting Democrats attempts to secure the Women's Equality Party line. Three groups are vying for the right to endorse candidates: One aligned with Cuomo; another aligned with former Democratic state Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk of Schenectady County; and a group of Republicans from western New York.

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