Don't Write Off This "Write-In" Candidate

Oct 17, 2013

Sam Coleman
Credit Dan Curtis

Write-in candidates for political office have a tough road to hoe, but  “the write-in” candidate is no stranger to the Albany political scene.

Although perception is write-in candidates rarely win, they occasionally do, which is why more often than not, political hopefuls muster their own grassroots campaigns in hopes of getting elected. The process varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but write-in candidates can compete in any election in the United States.

In September, Albany's Sam Coleman lost his primary bid to run for 5th Ward Common Councilman on the Democratic line, but after getting a taste of local politics, he's not giving up.  Although Coleman's resume is impressive, 15 votes in opponent Mark Robinson's favor led to a primary defeat.

But fellow Democrats, including Dom Calsolaro, Barbara Smith and Judd Krasher, believe Coleman deserves a seat on the Council. 

Green Party mayoral candidate Theresa Portelli recalls that former state Assemblyman Jack McEneny won a write-in campaign for County Legislature in his first bid for public office in 1991.

McEneny had previously served as Deputy County Executive to Jim Coyne from 1989 to 1991.  In 1997, he unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings for the Democratic nomination. He went on to serve nine terms in the Assembly and retired in 2012.

A host of other candidates have launched write-in campaigns during their political careers, some more successfully than others.  For every Dwight Eisenhower or JFK, there is a perpetual local write-in candidate like Marlon Anderson.