Senator Bernie Sanders, who is challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, will face a significant legal barrier if he attempts to run in next year’s New York primary while remaining unaffiliated with a party. A section of state election law commonly known as Wilson-Pakula prohibits candidates from appearing on the ballot in a party’s primary unless they are either enrolled members or receive the approval of the party’s committee.
Sanders, of Vermont, is an independent and so would need the approval of the state’s Democrats to get his name on the ballot. But the state’s two major parties have historically granted Wilson-Pakulas only in rare circumstances. Several longtime political observers contacted by Capital could not recall a single instance in which either party has granted one to a candidate in a statewide race. Clinton’s deep political connections to New York make the likelihood of them doing so even less.
“Hadn’t thought about it, but my initial answer would be no,” Assemblyman Keith Wright said when asked if he thought Sanders should be allowed on the ballot for New York’s Democratic primary.