Representatives of two potential independent candidates for the 26th Congressional District -- Jack Davis and David Bellavia -- have begun collecting designating petition signatures for the seat vacated by Republican Chris Lee.
Aides to Davis were spotted at a local supermarket, while Bellavia gave the strongest sign to date that he will attempt to make the ballot by indicating he is also collecting signatures.
"I'm out there," Bellavia said.
Candidates seeking a spot on the ballot must collect 3,500 signatures over the next 12 days, according to state election law. Davis has said he will pay workers to collect the signatures as part of the $3 million he has pledged to spend, and has retained former East Aurora Mayor David J. DiPietro to assist his effort.
Bellavia has said he is relying on a network of tea party and veterans organizations activists.
Election experts note that collecting valid signatures for an independent line is not as complicated as qualifying for primary or general election ballots, since party affiliation is not an issue.
-- Robert J. McCarthy