ELLIS NOT GIVING UP RACE

Loser in mayoral primary plans campaign on third-party line against Jennings, Lebron

JORDAN CARLEO-EVANGELIST STAFF WRITER
Section: Capital Region,  Page: D1

Date: Friday, September 25, 2009

ALBANY -- Nine days after losing the Democratic primary to Mayor Jerry Jennings, and following more than a week of speculation, Corey Ellis on Thursday signaled that he will continue to campaign in the general election on the Working Families Party line.


In an e-mail to supporters, Ellis thanked those who backed him and declared "the race to determine the next mayor of Albany is not over. Not by a long shot."


Ellis has the WFP line on the ballot whether he actively campaigns or not. While his message didn't explicitly say what the one-term councilman from Arbor Hill intends to do, it noted: "We have come so far but this campaign will continue only if we have the financial support of voters like you.


"To win this election we need to reach those additional voters and that is going to take money. I am asking you to donate to my campaign. ... I look forward to serving you as the next mayor of Albany."


If Ellis does wage a general election campaign, it would set up a three-way race among Jennings, Ellis and Republican Nathan Lebron. Three others -- Benzie Johnon, Marlon Anderson and Valerie Faust -- have said they're running as write-ins.


Ellis was not available for comment, but the plea for campaign cash is not surprising.


The final numbers on how much both Jennings and Ellis spent on the primary won't be public until after today. Ellis' campaign acknowledges it spent virtually everything it raised in its effort to unseat the four-term incumbent.


And, with 44 percent of the unofficial primary vote, the 38-year-old Albany native came closer than any Jennings challenger has before, winning seven of 15 wards.


Jennings dramatically outraised and outspent Ellis in the primary, appearing in two high-end television ads. Ellis did not appear on TV or radio, and even the councilman's supporters say raising money, already a challenge, may be even more difficult in the wake of the primary loss.


Others said Ellis' showing, despite a Siena Research Institute poll just days before the primary that pegged him down 21 points, was too strong to just walk away.


"Having not won, but having gotten 44 percent of the vote, I think it gave voice to the people in the city who really want to see change," Karen Scharff, co-chair of the Capital District Working Families Party, said in an interview last week.


At the time, Scharff said she would have to talk to Ellis first before deciding whether he should continue.


Councilman Dominick Calsolaro said he spoke to Ellis Wednesday and urged him to stay in at least until Jennings unveils his 2010 budget next week.


Lebron said he also understood why Ellis would want to stay in, noting the councilman won his council seat on the WFP line four years ago only after losing the Democratic primary.


"If he pulled it off once, why would he not think that he could pull it off again?" Lebron noted, adding that if Ellis stays in, it also helps his odds in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans about 11-1.


Reach Jordan Carleo-Evangelist at 454-5445 or by e-mail at jcarleo-evangelist@timesunion.com.