The Democratic campaigns of Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and former Massachusetts Sen. Paul E. Tsongas each filed challenges Thursday designed to knock the other off New York's presidential primary ballot.
State Democratic Chairman John Marino said, however, that he would do "whatever I legally can do" to see that both candidates are on the April 7 primary ballot. Campaign aides traded accusations as to which side started the fight over the validity of signatures on their petitions for spots on the ballot.
New York has the second-largest delegation to the Democratic National Convention and the most complicated ballot rules. Most of the delegates are chosen by the primary vote.
Clinton's campaign challenged the petitions of Tsongas and another Democratic candidate, former Irvine, Calif., Mayor Larry Agran. The Tsongas campaign challenged the petitions of all of the other Democrats who filed for ballot spots, including Clinton.
The Tsongas campaign filed fewer than 4,000 signatures over the required minimum of 10,000, a slender cushion if state officials begin to find invalid names on his petitions. Clinton filed petitions with more than 48,000 signatures.
Jim Armenakis, chairman of the Tsongas campaign in New York, described the challenges as "strictly a defensive maneuver. We're preserving our rights in doing that."