ENDICOTT, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – Lawyer Paul Battisti is ready for round 2 in his effort to become Broome County District Attorney.
The Republican launched his campaign before roughly 150 enthusiastic supporters at the Sons of Italy Hall in Endicott this morning.
The announcement sets up a rematch between Battisti and current D-A Mike Korchak who is also a Republican.
Four years ago, Korchak, running as a Libertarian, narrowly defeated Battisti by 55 votes in a 3 way race in the general election.
The race created a bitter rift among Republicans in Broome County.
Earlier that year, Battisti had bested Korchak in a Republican primary by 173 votes.
Battisti is a criminal defense attorney in private practice.
He blames Korchak for a rise in crime locally.
Battisti says the D-A’s office has lost half its staff under Korchak’s leadership and that roughly one thousand felony arrests have lead to cases being dismissed.
“These dismissed cases include allegations of violent assaults, sexual assaults against children, weapons possession, drug possession, domestic violence, DWI’s and so many more. It’s simple, what this means is that our men and women in blue, they place their lives on the line every single day only to see the criminal cases they’ve worked tirelessly on be dismissed for no legitimate reason,” he says.
Battisti says he plans to run an aggressive yet positive campaign.
Korchak counters that Battisti is misleading the public with baseless accusations.
He says the turnover at the office is due in part to the change in administration, but mostly because of the state’s reforms to the discovery process.
Korchak says the longer hours and low pay is why prosecutors are seeking other jobs.
And he says Battisti is skewing the numbers when it comes to cases being dismissed.
“I will put my résumé, personally as a prosecutor, up against Mr. Battisti’s. I’ve been a prosecutor for 25 years, fighting for justice, crime victims and their families. And Mr. Battisti has nothing on his résumé regarding prosecution because he’s never worked in a DA’s office and now he wants to run the DA’s office,” he said.
Korchak says the gloves are coming off and he plans to shine a spotlight on Battisti’s past.
Last year, Korchak switched his party registration back to Republican and in December announced his re-election bid.
This year’s Republican primary could prove to be more decisive.
That’s because former Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed through reforms that severely limit ballot access for third party candidates such as Libertarians, meaning that option may not be available to Korchak should he lose the GOP primary once again.
Broome County Democratic Chairwoman Barbara Fiala tells NewsChannel 34 that the Democrats are currently in discussions with a potential candidate, but she’s not prepared to disclose their name at this time.