BETHLEHEM — Following arguments made earlier in the day, the Bethlehem Democratic Committee (BDC) has learned that an appeal to reinstate candidates Giles Wagoner and Dan Coffey on the Democratic ballot line and allow them to compete in a primary election on Tuesday, Sept.12 has failed.
The Democratic party has been in turmoil since two unendorsed party members, Dan Morin and George Harder, sued to remove the committee’s chosen candidates (Wagoner and Coffey) from the ballot. Members must now decide how to approach a general election in which two outliers will be on the Democratic ticket and the party’s chosen candidates will only appear on the Working Families Party line. In an election year with stiff GOP competition, town Democrats have good reason to be worried that internal party schisms will result in losses at the polls in November.
On Thursday, Aug. 10, the committee gathered to discuss the lawsuit and overwhelmingly chose to support Wagoner and Coffey in the event they were able to secure a primary. At the time, no decisions were made as to how to proceed in the event that the appeal failed and the committee’s chosen candidates were unable to compete in a primary election to appear on the Democratic party line in November.
Now, the committee must decide whether to support two candidates who secured their positions on the Democratic party line in the general election by suing their own party — but who appear on the Democratic party line, nonetheless — or the committee’s chosen candidates, who will appear on a third party’s ballot line. Should the BDC opt to support Wagoner and Coffey, the danger is that Democrats who may not be as savvy to party politics will simply vote their party line, potentially splitting the Democratic vote (between those who vote for the Democratic candidates on the Dem line and those who vote for the Democratic candidates on the WFP line) and handing the win to GOP candidates.
Coffey said that he and Wagoner are disappointed with the appellate court’s decision, but intend to continue actively campaigning, as they believe they are the best candidates for the positions of Town Board member and Highway Superintendent, respectively.
BDC members will meet on Thursday, Sept. 14 to decide how to proceed in the lead-up to the general election.
The appellate court’s decision below: