Two candidates in the 24th Congressional District race plan to file independent petitions with the state Board of Elections.

Two-term incumbent, Michael Arcuri, 51, the Democratic candidate, will file petitions today, Carolyn Ehrlich of his campaign staff said.

"The name of the party is N.Y. Moderates," she said.

And Ernest Logan Bell, a 25-year-old Republican from Trumansburg, sent an e-mail to The Daily Star on Sunday saying that he planned to file an independent petition Monday.

As of 4:55 p.m. Monday, five minutes before the close of business, his petitions had not been received, BOE spokesman John Conklin said. However, Bell will have until 5 p.m. today to file at least 3,500 signatures and secure a place on the November ballot.

Already assured of three ballot lines is Republican Richard Hanna, 59, of Barneveld, the Republican, Independence and Conservative parties' nominee.

Hanna challenged Arcuri two years ago and lost narrowly. In that race, he had the same ballot lines he has this year, and Arcuri was the candidate of the Democratic and Working Families parties. This year, after Arcuri voted against a health insurance reform bill, saying it didn't go far enough to control costs, the Working Families Party chose not to endorse him.

Ehrlich said Arcuri seeks to run under an independent label to stress his moderate stance on issues.

She declined to say how many signatures the campaign had garnered, but sent an e-mail, stating, "We are all very proud of the number of signatures we will be filing tomorrow."

Bell, who collected signatures at the Chenango County Fair last week, had a harder time coming up with the required names, according to his e-mails, including one sent Sunday night that stated in part, "We need all we can get."

And just filing an independent petition does not guarantee being listed on the ballot, as signatures can be challenged.

Asked Monday if Arcuri's campaign would challenge a petition filed by Bell -- an Army National Guardsman and anti-war activist -- Ehrlich wrote: "We have been focused on our own efforts to gather the required number of signatures for our N.Y. Moderates line. It's up to the Bell campaign to ensure they have complied with election law."

Hanna spokeswoman Renee Gamela said his campaign would not prejudge what it would do.

Gamela noted that by law, petitions should not contain signatures from people who have signed other petitions in the same race.

Without Bell in the running, this year's election would pit two candidates who fought nearly to a draw last time, a contest in which a relatively few votes could spell the difference, According to state Board of Elections, the 24th Congressional District is home to 156,730 Republicans, 134,110 Democrats and 104,237 independent voters or members of minor parties.

The district includes parts of Otsego, Broome, Cayuga, Oneida, Ontario, Tioga and Tompkins counties, and all of Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer and Seneca counties.

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