From the Morning Memo:

The Erie County Green Party said local Republican operatives co-opted its line by circulating petitions in NY-27 for a candidate who does not represent party values. Green Chairman Eric Jones said it is the latest and most publicized implementation of the tactic, but it’s certainly not the first time this has occurred.

“Oddly enough, it doesn’t happen in other parts of the state,” he said. “This is a uniquely Western New York thing, these fake candidates.”

In 2016, the party challenged another candidate its official said was a GOP plant in the 60th state Senate District race between Republican Chris Jacobs and Democrat Amber Small.

The Greens actually took that case to court, but a judge found the party didn’t have much legal ground to stand on. And Jones doesn’t have much confidence they will have better luck with the Board of Elections this time around, either.

“There is a process to challenge petitions in New York election law,” he said. “This petition itself, you know, we’re looking at, but it was professionally done.”

The situation is particularly sticky for the Green Party this year because its officials want to make sure their members vote in the gubernatorial race. Howie Hawkins is again running for governor – for the third time – and the party needs at least 50,000 votes to maintain ballot access under New York state law.

Jones said making sure people don’t continue to go down the line after checking the box for Hawkins will take a significant educational effort. He said the party is planning on sending direct mail to Green voters who live in NY-27, which, of course, will be costly.

“That’s very frustrating for us that we have to devote resources to a race that we were staying out of,” he said.

The party is also looking at ways to make sure nobody “steals” its line in the future. That could mean it has to circulate petitions for a candidate in essentially every local and federal race  (the party can designate candidates at its convention for state elections) to make sure the lines are protected.

Jones said that is also a “horrible drain on resources” for an organization that does not have the same amount of money or manpower as the major parties anyway.