Livingston GOP Primary Race Remains Tied After Judge's Decision
The Republican candidates for Livingston County District Attorney were back in court for the second time in two weeks. They were seeking a court decision to break a deadlock after both finished tied following the September 13th primary election, and remained tied after absentee ballots were tallied.
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With the ballots and tally sheets in the hands of the Livingston County Sheriff's Office, District Attorney candidates Eric Schiener and Steve Sessler once again presented their case before State Supreme Court Justice John Ark.
Sessler's team did most of the arguing, claiming an undercount from two districts in Avon resulted in one more vote for Schiener than originally tallied and that vote should not count.
Sessler's attorney, Chris Thomas, says this is one of the most hotly contested primaries in recent history and called Schiener a political insider. Thomas said it's rare that such elections are ever close and a tie is unheard of.
"But a tie that's broken by a found ballot or a correction of a miscounting has many people wondering if this election is being stolen by party insiders who've ignored the court's order to keep their partisan hands off of ballots and tally sheets," said Thomas.
In question is the count from Avon districts two and four; where five votes were recorded for Schiener, and where clearly six tallies are indicated. That tally sheet was later changed to six for Schiener and it was noted there was an addition error. Sessler claimed that change occurred outside his presence and argued whether the sheet was tampered with by the Republican Board of Election Commissioner. Schiener says the numbers speak for themselves.
"Everyone that was in that courtroom say there saw that there were six votes for me in Avon two and four, and we've said this all along, you can't argue with the numbers, the numbers are the numbers,” Schiener said.
Justice Ark ruled the count was a mistake and let the new numbers stand, meaning this race remains tied.
"As the court indicated in its decision on the 28th, this matter is referred to the Livingston County Republican Committee,” Ark said.
The committee will meet Thursday night to select the Republican candidate for the November general election. Schiener said 90 percent of the committee backs his candidacy and expects to get the nod.
Sessler remains in the race as the Conservative Party nominee and believes he and Schiener will split the vote again. That may open the door for Democrat Greg McCaffrey, the current District Attorney, to win the election.
"If he wins, then I don't, so that is a level of concern, but that's up to the Republican Committee, they're going to make the determination as to whether this is a two-party race or a three-party race,” said Sessler.
Sessler says he will not appeal the court's decision and will still seek the Republican Committee's nomination. He says that and the Conservative Party line are a powerful combination in Livingston County.