In New York, there are six lines on the ballot. Candidates can appear on multiple lines, so Republicans and Democrats work to get the endorsement of smaller parties. When those parties break off and endorse their own candidates, it can split the vote and dramatically change the dynamic of an election, as was the case in the 23rd district.
Should Bellavia fail to secure the Conservative Party line, and there’s every indication that he will, his road to winning a substantial portion of the vote will be difficult. He is the sentimental favorite of local tea party leaders, but they’ve been reluctant to openly support him for fear it could hand the seat to Democrats.
Without the Conservative Party, Bellavia and Davis, a former Democratic Congressional candidate, could seek the Independence Party line. But Davis’ standing with the Independence Party is questionable in light of allegations that he made inappropriate payments to relatives of party officials during his 2008 Congressional bid.
New York’s complicated election law offers another option, however. Bellavia or Davis could create their own party line on the ballot.
Each would need to collect 3,500 signatures within 12 days of the governor’s proclamation of the date of the special election. The timeline is unclear at this point, but the contest is expected to be at least two months away.
Davis and Bellavia have been securing staff in anticipation of a run. Davis has the financial resources to assemble a large team to help collect signatures should he need to, but Bellavia would likely need to rely on volunteers.
If Bellavia has an edge with Republicans, it’s on abortion. Both tea party and Conservative Party leaders have raised questions about Corwin’s position on the issue (she supports abortion rights during the first trimester).
Long downplayed the concern, however.
“This is not New York 23, where Republicans put up a liberal candidate and we had another Republican who was a conservative. In this case, we have two conservatives,” he said. “[Bellavia] may be a little more conservative on a couple issues, which makes the choice more difficult, but Jane achieved a very high [conservative] rating in the Assembly.”
Meanwhile, Democratic officials are eager to tamp down expectations in one of the Empire State’s most conservative regions.
“You have to be realistic in this game. Resources are not unlimited,” Jacobs said. “You also don’t want to make this into any kind of referendum that from the get go is an unfair one because it’s so difficult to win. Any time you have special election, naturally the press and the public look at it as some sort of referendum, either on the Obama administration or even [Democratic Gov. Andrew] Cuomo.”