MARK GILLESPIE/Livingston County News
Candidates Steve Sessler (left) and Eric Schiener await the opening of the absentee ballots by Livingston County election commissioners Monday morning.
Board of Elections
GOP District Attorney candidates tied again
A hard fought primary and court challenge to five absentee ballots have failed to break the tie between Republican District Attorney candidates Eric Schiener and Steve Sessler.
Monday night, that job will fall to the members of the Livingston County Republican Committee. At 7:30 p.m., that group will choose its nominee for the general election.
Editor’s note: Tonight’s meeting has been postponed pending a court order.
The route to today’s tied result has included the committee’s overwhelming endorsement of Schiener at a June meeting, followed by a vigorous summer campaign on the part of both candidates. The Sept. 13 primary vote ended in a tie of 1,879-to-1,879, with seven absentee ballots showing irregularities. Election officials reported last week that a counting error actually left the vote at 1,880 to 1,879 in Schiener’s favor.
Supreme Court Justice John Ark ruled on five of those votes last week, throwing two out for being unsealed, and allowing two which had extraneous marks — both for Sessler. Ark also allowed a ballot cast for Schiener the day after the absentee filing deadline. This final ballot, opened Monday morning at the Livingston County Government Center, leaves the race tied at 1,881-to-1,881.
According to state law, the county’s party committee decides the nomination in the case of a tie. In June, the committee voted by a factor of 9-to-1 in support of Eric Schiener, but both candidates say committee members might change their votes in order to avoid a three-way race with Democratic nominee and current District Attorney Greg McCaffrey.
“If the Republican party wants to avoid the three way race, it would be prudent for them to make a decision for that in mind,” said Sessler following Monday’s vote count.
Schiener acknowledges that a three way race would reduce the Republican Party’s odds in November, but he says he’s confident his broad base of support would still propel him to victory.
“I won in 12 of 17 towns, and in 40 of 63 election districts. Only 4,000 voters out of 16,000-plus who made it to the polls on primary day,” he said. “With a presidential election and a hot congressional race, anything could happen. If we get our numbers out and they back ‘Row B,’ it will be a tight race, but one that ends in a victory for the Republicans.”