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Dems limit damage

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Democrats in Jefferson County say they have escaped relatively unscathed after a paperwork error in August kept their party’s line off the ballot in Clayton, Cape Vincent and Wilna, forcing them to wage more difficult write-in campaigns.

“If you want to place a bet, I’d have to bet that all four of my candidates won,” said Patrick W. Youngs, the Democratic chairman in Clayton.

Unofficial election results from the Jefferson County Board of Elections don’t specify who will receive the write-in votes, which won’t be tabulated for about another week, at least. But party officials in the towns said they’re sure that their candidates received the relatively large number of write-in votes because they hadn’t heard of any other candidate waging an opposing campaign.

In Clayton, Norma Zimmer waged a write-in campaign for village mayor, Trustee Dennis Honeywell and newcomer Twyla Webb waged write-in campaigns for the village board and Lance Peterson ran for the town board.

According to Board of Elections figures, there were 222 write-in votes for mayor, and no other candidates on the ballot. Voters cast 245 write-in votes for two open spots on the village Board of Trustees. On the Town Board, Republican Christopher D. Matthews took in 481 votes, with 220 write-in votes.

“It’s safe to say that they won,” Mr. Youngs said of the Democratic candidates.

Wilna Democrats only had one person on the ballot: Marco J. Franchini, who has served on the Town Board since the 1980s. Paul H. Smith, the Democratic chairman in Wilna, said it appeared Mr. Franchini earned enough write-in votes — there were a total of 173 — to win one of two available spots on the board.

“I don’t know of anybody else going out and advertising a write-in,” Mr. Smith said.

Cape Vincent, of course, is a more difficult nut to crack. Democrats there formed a coalition with members of other political parties that officially was pushing for experienced candidates. The candidates it backed for Town Council and town supervisor support wind power.

Its candidates for Town Board seem to be headed for certain defeat, even though one of them, Conservative Marty T. Mason, has the second-most votes of four candidates for two open spots. Republican John L. Byrne is nearly certain to leap over Mr. Mason’s 453 votes, with the help of 503 outstanding absentee ballots. Anti-wind-power Supervisor Urban C. Hirschey, a Republican, was leading Democrat-supported Harvey J. White, who was running on the Conservative line. That lead should expand with absentee ballots.

“The absentees will take it away” for anti-wind power development candidates, said Harold L. Wiley, Cape Vincent Democratic Party chairman.

With wind such a prevalent issue, it’s unlikely that the lack of the Democratic line was what spelled defeat for the pro-wind power candidates.

Kirk E. Grant, a Democrat-supported incumbent running for town justice on the Conservative line, was in second place for two open spots, leading Colleen M. Knuth 565-369. Republican John D. Blodgett had 679 votes.

Mr. Grant could still lose after absentee ballots are counted, Mr. Wiley said.

The coalition also supported Elisabeth “Liz” Brennan for one of two open village trustee spots, who, unlike the other Cape Vincent candidates, did not have the benefit of a non-Democratic line. She was a pure write-in candidate. Republican Pamela Youngs was in first place with 230 votes. Voters cast 200 write-ins — presumably for Ms. Brennan — and Republican Harry E. Landers, Jr. had 115 votes.

“I think Liz is safe,” Mr. Wiley said.

Danny P. Hubbard had the Democrats’ support for town highway superintendent. He waged a write-in campaign, and nobody else ran on the line. Voters cast 505 write-in votes in that race.

Meanwhile, the large number of write-in votes will mean that official results will take longer to compile than is typical. The counting will begin on Monday.

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