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Judge opens up the Conservative line

Kotary's lawsuit successful, candidate to be decided in September primary

— There's been yet another shakeup in the Bethlehem supervisor race that's effectively opened up the Conservative line to all comers.

Albany County Supreme Court Judge Thomas McNamara on Friday, Aug. 5, ruled in favor of supervisor candidate Kyle Kotary's lawsuit seeking to invalidate the Conservative Party's late endorsement of his opponent, John Clarkson. But at the same time he also authorized an opportunity to ballot race to be held on that line in the upcoming September primary.

The lawsuit centered on the Conservative Party's certificate to substitute Clarkson for sitting Supervisor Sam Messina, who had originally garnered the party's endorsement before he bowed out of the race. Kotary argued a section of this form had not been properly notarized, nullifying the substitution.

“This midnight deal to mislead the voters was done in such haste that they forgot to follow the law. The judge agreed. Hopefully, my opponents will now join me in signing the Fair Campaign Pledge, and in running an open, transparent, and issue-based campaign,” Kotary said in a statement following the ruling.

Clarkson fired back with his own statement.

"Kyle's lawsuit took advantage of apparent procedural errors, serving his campaign strategy of limiting choice. The voters are not well served by such technical legal wrangles, and I would not have launched such a lawsuit, nor challenged his petitions. Kyle's nonsensical linkage of whether a substitution certificate was properly notarized with a supposed 'deal' is classic psychological projection. Kyle's careless use of rhetoric and negative sound bytes cheapens politics in our town. Bethlehem voters are tired of negative campaigning, and deserve better leadership,” Clarkson said.

McNamara reportedly did not want to leave Conservatives without a candidate, so members of that party will have an opportunity to write in a candidate of their choice in the upcoming primary.

Albany County Conservative Party Chairman Richard Stack said it's a situation he's never encountered in his years of politics, but he remarked that it makes for an entirely open process.

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