In the 2013 mayoral election for the city of Syracuse, there was no Republican candidate to run against incumbent Democrat, Stephanie Miner. To give the people of Syracuse a choice, Ian Hunter, a local conservative, and a small group of activists wore out their walking shoes going door to door to collect enough signatures to get his name on the ballot. The requirement was 569 signatures. The group was able to collect 680 thereby securing his nomination.
After their customary review, the Board of Elections ruled that they’d only collected 572 “valid” signatures. According to people knowledgeable of the process, the BOE will often deem a signature invalid for the tiniest mistake – if the person’s street address is misspelled, a T isn’t crossed, or the name they write doesn’t match exactly to the name on record (i.e. the signator leaves off the ‘Jr.’). For an institution that is charged with ensuring a fair electoral process, it sure has a lot of power to suppress a voter’s voice. Still, Hunter was on the ballot with three more signatures than needed.
The Onondaga County GOP leadership, led by Tom Dadey, however; was for some reason afraid of Hunter’s candidacy. Maybe they were afraid that if elected, he’d actually stand on the limited government conservative principles that his campaign was based on. Some speculated whether the local GOP leaders are actually double agents for the Democratic Party. That seems ludicrous, but their actions during the election certainly invite that kind of accusation.
To start, the local GOP never made a serious effort to find a Republican candidate to challenge Miner in 2013. Tom Dadey, Onondaga GOP “Boss” (as he pompously calls himself) put his own name in as a candidate, but was knowingly unqualified because he wasn’t a resident of the city. Next, he put in Kevin Kuehner, who never intended to run, and against whom the Democrats filed a lawsuit to challenge his candidacy. In response to that lawsuit, Dadey said, the “Democrats are pulling out all of the stops to ensure that this is a coronation and not an election.” That statement could just as easily be applied to Dadey himself.
When the petitions were filed to put Hunter’s name on the ballot, there were expectations that Dadey would comb through every last signature in order to disqualify Hunter. When the Board of Elections didn’t succeed in getting the number of signatures below the required amount, Dadey took matters into his own hands. Dadey took Hunter to court to remove him from the ballot.
The pettiness of Tom Dadey and the local GOP establishment can be detailed by one particular signature they fought to invalidate. During petitioning, an elderly gentleman answered the door of his house, listened to the spiel, liked what he heard, and was glad to sign the petition. The problem was that he had a severe case of Parkinson’s Disease and was too shaky to sign his name. He instead had his wife sign for him. Dadey and his team of lawyers argued that this was an invalid signature because it did not come from the person in question.
The judge ruled in favor of Dadey on this and in several similar circumstances. His rulings brought Hunter to below the required threshold and disqualified him from being able to appear on the ballot. For a so-called democracy, this should give people pause.
Dadey and his cronies won, and Miner ran for mayor unopposed. For the first time in over 100 years, Syracuse’s mayoral election consisted of a solitary candidate. Local grassroots activists were able to do what the local GOP establishment could (would) not – field not just a Republican candidate, but a genuine conservative at that. In response, the GOP establishment went to the extreme in order to prevent that from happening.
The actions of Tom Dadey and his GOP machine should say all that needs to be said about the state of our “representative” government. If this is the kind of thing that happens at the local level, one can only imagine what kind of shenanigans goes on in D.C.