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Broome County DA receives former sheriff endorsement, defends seeking endorsement from Democrats

Former Broome County Sheriff David Harder is endorsing Michael Korchak in his reelection campaign for Broome County district attorney.
Vaughn Golden
Former Broome County Sheriff David Harder is endorsing Michael Korchak in his reelection campaign for Broome County district attorney.

Republican Broome County District Attorney Michael Korchak is defending his decision to request a cross-endorsement from Democrats.

Korchak said he reached out to Democrats as a show of what he considers a non-partisan approach to carrying out the responsibilities of the district attorney’s office.

"If any group approaches me to consider endorsing me on their line, I will consider it and that's what I've done in the past and that's what I will do now,” Korchak told reporters during a press conference Thursday morning. “That's not uncommon, and you do that so you're not owned by one party or another and you owe no favors to political operatives."

Korchak cited ethics recommendations from the District Attorney’s Association of the State of New York, DAASNY. In its ethics handbook, the association encourages district attorneys to accept endorsements from more than one political party when running for office.

“In order to demonstrate public support for the nonpartisan nature of the District Attorney’s office, a District Attorney should consider accepting the endorsement of more than one political party when running for office,” DAASNY’s guidance reads.

Broome County Democrats initially scheduled a meeting to vote on whether to allow Korchak to try to get on their ballot line, but party leadership quickly canceled. That’s in part because former Democratic Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan made clear he would run for the position instead.

Korchak is facing a Republican primary from Paul Battisti. Battisti beat Korchak in a primary in 2019, but lost when Korchak ran as a Libertarian in the general election.

While the Libertarian party doesn’t have the same ballot access now as it did in 2019, Korchak didn’t rule out running on an independent party line in the general election. Still, he said he’s confident he will win the Republican primary.

Former Broome County Sheriff David Harder, a Republican, said he would endorse Korchak Thursday.

Harder said Korchak cleaned up what he considers to have been corruption in the district attorney’s office.

"It was a corrupt office,” Harder said. “He took the corruption out of it and made it a decent office and he's out there fighting for victims rights everyday."

Harder retired at the end of last year after a nearly 60-year career with the Broome County Sheriff's Office. He notably endorsed Kate Newcomb, the Democratic candidate looking to succeed him, over Republican Fred Akshar, his former undersheriff.

Akshar, a former state senator and now Broome County sheriff, was one of a number of current Republican officials who joined Battisti when he announced he would run for district attorney, last month.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.