U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy, D-Glens Falls, has been endorsed by the Independence Party of New York, party Chairman Frank McKay said.

"New York needs a leader who will be a strong independent voice for his district. Congressman Scott Murphy has shown us that he is that leader,"' McKay said in an e-mail sent to The Daily Star by Murphy's office. "He is a candidate with the experience necessary to work with our small businesses to create jobs and rebuild our economy."

However, Murphy's Republican challenger, Christopher Gibson of Kinderhook, is continuing to collect Independence Party signatures, campaign aide Daniel Odescalchi said Tuesday.

Odescalchi said two Independence Party chairs in the 10-county 20th Congressional District supported Gibson, and the challenger will continue to work for the support of party members.

When Murphy won a special election last year to succeed Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate, he was endorsed by the Independence Party. In a close race in the Republican-leaning district, Murphy defeated Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco.

In accepting the third party's endorsement this year, Murphy noted it had also endorsed his predecessor and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, the Democrats' endorsed choice for governor.

"I look forward to running on the same line as Cuomo and Gillibrand," Murphy said.

John Conklin, spokesman for the state Board of Elections, noted that an endorsement does not automatically place a candidate on the ballot as a party's choice. A candidate still needs to gather a sufficient number of signatures, he said, and a candidate who is not a party member needs an official party authorization.

Lee Kolesnikoff, Independence Party chairman in Saratoga County, said that in all likelihood, Murphy will appear on the ballot as the Independence Party's choice.

Gibson could force a primary through a state election rule called "opportunity to ballot," but would have to run as a write-in the primary. This would be a daunting task, he said.

According to the state Board of Elections, the 20th Congressional District is home to 23,841 Independence Party members, as well as 177,134 Republicans and 116,198 Democrats.

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