54th District: Cast set for Sept. 13 Republican primary

The field is set.

When New York State Senator Michael Nozzolio announced that he would not be seeking re-election this year due to health concerns, the participants were not immediately clear.

It took months for prospective candidates to come forward, which provided a lot of time for voters to wonder about the future of the New York State Senate’s 54th District.

While just one Democrat survived the petition process, multiple Republicans survived — despite some efforts to narrow the field.

Former Assemblyman Sean Hanna of Webster, Lyons Town Supervisor Brian Manktelow, Floyd Rayburn of F.G. Rayburn Mason Contractors in Hopewell, former Greece Police Officer John Ritter of Webster, and Canandaigua Town Supervisor Pam Helming round out the list of Republicans, which will fight for votes in the September 13 primary.

The winner, or winner(s) of the primary process will face off in the general election this November against Rose Town Supervisor Kenan Baldridge.

Geneva City Councilman Charlie Evangelista was kicked off the ballot in a controversial effort by a group of Republicans from Canandaigua who spearheaded an effort to challenge a large swath of petitions from multiple candidates.

Joe Geiger, an Army veteran, ended his campaign last week after some signatures collected by his volunteers were called into question. When he went to Albany to challenge, he learned that the individuals challenging his signatures had filed a preemptive lawsuit — in the event that he were able to argue his case to the Board of Elections.

He was unable to do so, but Evangelista felt a similar outcome. Met with a lawsuit, on top of the notion that their signatures were being challenged — both fired back at respective powers within the 54th District, and New York State as a whole.

Republican Bobby Massarini was the latest to be removed from the ballot after signatures were called into question. While many thought that he had more than enough signatures to survive any “scrubbing” that could take place, it simply was not the case.

Over 300 signatures were wiped off the board for Massarini, which left him a few dozen shy of meeting the 1,000 signature threshold.

Canandaigua Supervisor Pam Helming is the endorsed candidate of the Republican Party, but the large volume of candidates in the field has opened the door to speculation about sustainability in the long-term of this race.

As the party moves closer to their September 13 primary, questions loom about the party’s ability to unite behind a candidate — a theme all-too-present for Republicans across the U.S.

Some have also classified this as a potential worst-case-scenario for the Republican Party as a whole in the 54th District. While Republicans enjoy a 14,000 registered voter advantage — it’s an advantage that would be quickly erased by a second Republican candidate getting on the ballot in November.

While the party has selected their candidate in Helming, a candidate who will also appear on the Conservative, Reform, and Independent lines, a second Republican could make their way onto the ballot by winning the September 13 primary.

In that scenario, a trio of candidates would square off in a scenario that would seemingly benefit the Rose Town Supervisor, Kenan Baldridge, more than anyone else.

Geiger voiced his support for Rayburn, as he has become the clear “outsider” candidate, which greatly appeals to voters looking for change in Albany. Masarini has not endorsed any other candidate running at this time, though he did express his disappointment with the state Board of Elections on Monday.

If nothing else, this race is mimicking the race for the White House more by the day. Unconventional, surprising, interesting — and far from mundane. The one problem with this race so far is that the process is leaving voters with a lot more to think about than candidates and issues.

Read more on this story below:

Why Joe Geiger was removed from ballot in NY Senate race to succeed Nozzolio
State rules on petitions, bumps challengers from two Finger Lakes Senate districts
Evangelista, Geiger both out of race for 54th District

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