The state Board of Elections ruled Wednesday challenger Philip Pidot did not have enough valid petition signatures to qualify for a June 28 Republican primary against State Sen. Jack Martins, the GOP’s choice in the 3rd Congressional District.
But Martins also suffered a setback as the state board also ruled he did not have enough signatures to qualify for the Independence Party ballot line for the November election, in which voters will pick a successor to retiring Democratic Rep. Steve Israel.
The state board ruled that Pidot, who had filed a total of 2,195 petition signatures, was 16 short of the minimum of 1,250 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.
However, William F.B. O’Reilly, a Pidot spokesman, vowed to appeal the state board’s ruling in court. “This is a temporary condition,” he said. “We’re going to fight this out and we’re confident we will be on the ballot.”
The state board also removed Martins from the minor party line because he filed 658 signatures when 977 were needed to be eligible to run on a line that usually polls from 2 percent to 4 percent. The objections to the petitions were filed by Lorraine Salese, a supporter of Democratic Suffolk Legis. Steve Stern, who is also running in the five-way Democratic primary for Israel’s seat.
“Given how long Jack Martins has been in Albany, it is surprising that he didn’t have the support needed to gather the requisite number of signatures,” said Stern.
However, E. O’Brien Murray, Martins’ campaign manager, downplayed the impact, noting that Martins “will have three lines in November, while Democrats right now have none.” He also expects the ruling against Pidot to stand: “This just shows the Republicans will be unified behind Jack Martins, while Democrats have a bloody, divisive primary.”
On the Democratic side in the 3rd District race, the state board threw out without a review a challenge to former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi’s congressional petitions from rival Jon Kaiman, former North Hempstead supervisor. The challenge was rejected because it was made by Kaiman supporter Stephen Cadavillo, who does not live in the congressional district and had no standing to object. Cadavillo also had tried to challenge Martin’s Independence petitions, but it was also rejected because of the residency issue.
“Kaiman’s sloppy attempt was an utter failure,” said Mike Floria, Suozzi’s campaign manager. “Tom Suozzi gets things done and getting on the ballot was easy.”
“We were surprised that so many of Tom Suozzi’s signatures were not valid so we put in that last-minute challenge. We welcome him back into the race,” said Jeff Guillot, Kaiman’s campaign manager.
Suozzi also survived a challenge brought by Kourosh Namigohar, a supporter of North Hempstead town board member Anna Kaplan. The state board invalidated 408 of the 2,408 signatures Suozzi filed, leaving him with 748 more than he needed to make the ballot. Kaplan last week withdrew a lawsuit also challenging Suozzi’s petitions.