Petitioning for a Spot Against Sheldon Silver

It should, theoretically, be the least of concerns for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s primary challengers to petition successfully for a place on the ballot. (Only 500 signatures are required in the district.) But they’re not taking any chances.

This morning, one of Silver’s opponents, Luke Henry, announced that he’s retained Alan Zimmerman, a petition specialist. In announcing Zimmerman’s hire, Henry’s campaign said, “No campaign for which Zimmerman has directed the petitioning operation has ever failed to get onto the ballot. This is no small accomplishment in New York, where candidates are often ‘bumped’ from the ballot for failing to comply with meaningless technicalities.”

Democratic consultant Jerry Skurnik, who praised Zimmerman and worked with him in the past, told me, “There are not that many people who get knocked off because of technicalities. Alan will make sure there won’t be any technicalities that knock you out. On the other hand, he could play offense and knock off the other guy.”

That other guy would be Paul Newell, who is also challenging Silver.

Newell told me this morning that he, too, has hired a lawyer to help make sure he gets on the ballot. When asked if he would agree to not challenge the opposition’s signatures, Newell said no.

When asked why, he told me, “Because I’m going to do what I need to do to win this race. We’re in this race to win.” He added, “Hopefully, it won’t come to that.”

I’m waiting to hear back from Henry’s campaign on whether or not they plan to challenge petitions.

UPDATE: A spokeswoman for Henry’s campaign emailed to say, “We are focused on getting onto the ballot and communicating our message of change to the voters. We have no plans to challenge our opponents’ petitions.”

Petitioning for a Spot Against Sheldon Silver