At 6 p.m. on Friday, at the end of a day during which the Republicans served a fresh batch of legal notices to challenge the Democrats' opportunity to ballot petitions, taping them to the doors of the homes of people involved in circulating those petitions, Nick Haddad, whose candidacy for mayor is in dispute, released this statement. Photo contributed.
Mayoral candidate Nicholas C. (“Nick”) Haddad took strong issue today with Republicans challenging Democratic voters' right to write in any candidate they choose for Mayor.
“I am dismayed to see the Columbia County Republican machine trying to disenfranchise the voters of Hudson,” Haddad said on Friday. “They want to deny people their right to write in the candidates they choose. These actions suggest that they think they can’t win on the issues, and need to game the system."
“It seems my popularity with the voters of many different parties has frightened my opponents,” Haddad continued. “They’re afraid that someone beholden to no one will be elected. If elected, I will work for the City and all its citizens and establish a future where all of us have a hand in the process.”
Haddad recalled how “Only two weeks ago, the chairman of the Hudson Republicans stated unequivocally that the people have a ‘right of choice’ and therefore any obstruction of due process and basic fairness in the ‘right to vote’ would not be an option. I took him at his word. Given his statement, it looks a lot like this action came down from the County Republican leadership, not up from the local level.
“I therefore call upon my opponent to reject this outside interference and join me in a spirited, friendly, fair campaign. Let’s both sign a pledge to stick to the issues, and not play these childish games.”
A July 21st Register-Star article detailed the City Democrats' plans to create an "opportunity to ballot" (OTB) on primary day, allowing voters to write in the name of the candidate of their choice. Petitions were duly gathered and submitted for that purpose. At the time of that article, the local GOP chair voiced his intention not to interfere with the Democrats' primary, stating that “I just hope, for the sake of the city, that they have a choice and an opportunity to pick a mayor they believe will do the best job.”
But the Republicans later did file objections and a lawsuit to prevent a write-in line for Mayor appearing on the September 13th ballot. This Thursday, the Columbia County Board of Elections ruled to accept the write-in petitions of over 140 Democratic voters. But even after their initial legal objection was rejected by acting Judge Hummel, Republican attorney Bill Better re-filed his suit to block Hudson Democrats from being able to write in a Mayoral candidate.
“It is even more troubling that the Republicans would try to deny voter rights based on a technicality, even while they demand more than one chance to get their own paperwork straight,” Haddad said. “This kind of behavior has no place in City Hall, and I trust the voters will remember it on Election Day.”
“The OTB process provides the citizens of Hudson the right to make a choice on who they wish to represent them on the Democratic line. Any name can be written in; it’s up to the voters. But that’s the opportunity the Republican Party now seeks to deny the public. It is not about any one candidate, but about all voters’ fundamental right to choose their leaders and participate in the Democratic process.
“Why the Republican party of such venerable and storied history would stoop this low, to disenfranchise voters, is regrettable and even profane. This sort of tactic is precisely why I have chosen to separate from the Republican Party that I firmly believe has lost its way in Hudson. That was not an easy decision, for my immediate and extended family has had long ties to the Party dating from the Eisenhower administration. And the core principles formulated from Abraham Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt have ennobled it. Those principles are not on display in the GOP’s actions today.
“My campaign for Mayor of the City of Hudson stands on its own merits. They are fairness, transparency, equality, public participation and the people of Hudson’s inalienable right to self-determination. These basic principles I believe are the center of the democratic process.
“So I must ask: Who is driving the Republican bus? My campaign and that of my running mates came out of the gate strong and purposeful, and with an overwhelming mandate from a broad constituency of Democrats, Republican and independents alike. Our strength is what these legal strategies to disenfranchise voters is truly all about. A weak hand in cards will often prompt its holder to make a rash play. Bluffing isn't what made this country great, it is risky and often fatal.
“As your Mayor, I will never bluff. And the people will always be able to take me at my word.”
Proceedings to determine whether voters have a choice are scheduled resume on Monday morning before Judge Hummel, assuming the Republicans don’t withdraw their lawsuit.