Dems seek direction in New York special

New York Democrats are struggling with self-imposed deadlines for candidates interested in the upcoming special House election, as major potential candidates continue to be noncommittal about seeking their party’s nomination.

It was still unclear Friday who had applied by Thursday’s deadline or if further applications would be accepted. A spokesman for the 11 county chairmen tasked with picking a nominee in Army Secretary-designate John McHugh’s (R-N.Y.) district wasn’t commenting Friday.

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A conference call has been set for Tuesday, but for now, chaos reins.

Attorney Dan French and Dr. Robert Johnson are among the major possible candidates who had yet to file at Thursday’s deadline.

Johnson told the Syracuse Post-Standard shortly after the deadline that he remained undecided.

French told The Hill that he is not sure whether the deadline will be extended, but he doesn’t appear in any hurry to submit his name.

“First and foremost, I plan on spending the next week discussing with my family whether a run makes sense at this time, as I have two young children,” French said.

Much of the indecision and confusion stems from the fact that leaders and several of the candidates were expecting state Sen. Darrel Aubertine (D) to run for the seat. Aubertine, who announced shortly after the deadline that he wouldn’t run, probably would have cleared the field of major opponents.

Former assistant state Attorney General John Sullivan has formally applied but is still weighing his options. He said the uncertainty created by Aubertine’s decision Thursday has left Democrats in a tough spot.

“What does concern me is … it would have been nice to have had time to do some vetting for fundraising and that kind of thing,” Sullivan said. “But everything was in suspended animation until Darrel made his decision.”

Aubertine’s decision has left Democrats without their top candidate and has also had the effect of handing Scozzafava the Independence Party’s line on the ballot. The biggest third party in the state was quick to endorse Scozzafava on Friday.

Sullivan said he spoke with Aubertine and those close to Aubertine and truly believed he would run.

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“I think something changed; I think he really was going to go, and then he decided not to,” Sullivan said. “Now the question is what is Plan B. Am I part of Plan B? I don’t know yet.”

Others who could be a part of Plan B include former state Democratic Rural Conference Chairman Stuart Brody, Assemblywoman Addie Russell and 2008 candidate Michael Oot. All three appear to have expressed their interest to the county chairmen.

Others mentioned include attorneys Brian McGrath and Bill Owens, and Danny Francis, who was the party’s nominee against McHugh in 1994.

Sullivan said Friday that about a dozen candidates filed by the original deadline, which was set for least week, while another six applied by Thursday’s deadline.

But he expected more candidates to be allowed to seek the nomination.

“They’d have to further extend their deadline to allow French and Johnson,” Sullivan said. “I assume they will. Certainly Darrel’s withdrawal is a game-changer.”