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UPDATE: Evangelista, Geiger both out of race for 54th District

In a statement late-Monday afternoon, Republican Senate Candidate Joe Geiger announced that he would be removing himself from the race for the 54th District, and would be supporting Floyd Rayburn. He cited trust as the primary reason for his choosing Rayburn to support in the coming weeks. There have been growing concerns throughout the ranks in the 54th District, on both sides of the political aisle over petitions, the forces at play within the race, and who’s interests are really being protected.

Original Story: New York State Senate Candidate Charlie Evangelista, a Democrat from Geneva, announced on Monday that he failed to win the fight to get on the ticket for Senator Michael Nozzolio’s seat.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Evangelista thanked his supporters and vowed to continue advocating for open, good government as an Ontario County legislator and supporter of Brian Dennis for Ontario County Judge and Kenan Baldridge for State Senator.

His statement read in part:

“We traveled to Albany last Thursday for a hearing to fight for signatures that were objected to by two Town of Canandaigua Republicans and their high priced downstate lawyers. It was apparent from the beginning that logic and rational thinking were absent. Registered Democrats that took the time to collect signatures and sign our petitions had their signatures tossed out on technicalities.”

He continued his statement with allegations that the field was being intentionally narrowed by the powers-to-be on both sides of the political aisle.

He added, “To make sure we were removed from getting on the ballot, we came home to a lawsuit duct taped to the front door, just in case we prevailed at the Board of Election hearing. Ultimately, it is on me and my campaign to have the thousand necessary signatures.”

Evangelista wrapped up his statement saying, “I apologize for the scores of people that went out and collected for me but it’s obvious based on who the objectors are that the Republican Senate Committee in concert with their endorsed candidate, will do everything possible to narrow the field whether they are a Democrat or a Republican. My campaign was that Albany is broken and there is a disconnect between the electorate and their state representatives. Our experience certainly validates this –the fix is in.”

The fix Evangelista referred to is the growing concern about the validity of signatures obtained during campaigns like these. It’s unclear how, or if, the Republican Senate Committee will respond to the allegations that they were in some way connected to any such movement.

Evangelista is the first to officially drop out of the race.

On the Republican side of the race, Senate Candidate Joe Geiger posted a message to his supporters on Friday, as he faced his own challenges with regards to signatures, or their validity.

It read in part:

“On the surface it sure looks like everyone in Albany is in league with maintaining the singular party- the establishment party. Looking at legal options but that may require great resources and a protracted legal battle.” 

A second message, posted earlier read:

“Lawsuit is on hold pending the outcome of the Board of Elections meeting this afternoon- basically, if I lose and take it to court the Republican lawyers sue me, if I win they will still sue me, if I lose and drop out they will leave me be- this is how our state and our party treats the honest hard working taxpayers. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I feel a bit like Bernie Sanders right now. The difference between he and I though is that if I am vanquished this time around, you won’t hear any endorsements from me in favor of the establishment candidate.”

FingerLakes1.com will have more on this story as the race continues to develop.

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