A federal appeals court Wednesday reversed a lower court ruling for a special Oct. 6 Republican primary in the Third Congressional District that would have let Philip Pidot challenge state Sen. Jack Martins for the GOP nomination.
A three-judge panel, headed by Judge Dennis Jacobs, vacated the order issued last month at the end of a 40-minute hearing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan. Jacobs detailed no reasons for the ruling, but said a formal decision would be issued shortly.
The ruling comes after U.S. District Court Justice Frederick Scullin Jr. on Aug. 17 ordered the unusual Oct. 6 special primary. State elections officials already had received a federal waiver from the law requiring military and overseas ballot to go out 45 days before the election.
The appeals court order will save election boards in Nassau, Suffolk and New York City more than $1 million in additional costs for holding a special GOP primary. But it will mean Third District Republican voters will not have a choice between party designee Martins and Pidot, who after court battles was found to have more than 1,250 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.
It also ends the prospect of moving the general election in the Third District to Dec. 6 as Martins also had sought.
Pidot said in a statement that he was “stunned, in all candor, at today’s Court of Appeals reversal that effectively ends any chance of that primary occurring — a primary between two equally validated candidates for the office.”
He said he took “enormous pride, though, in the issues raised by my campaign and in the mettle we showed in taking on a political machine that has helped drive New York State into the ground in comfortable and perennial conjunction with Albany Democrats.”
However, E. O’Brien Murray, Martins’ campaign spokesman, called Pidot’s effort “obviously an attempt” by the House Democrats’ campaign committee “to insert itself into the Republican primary.” Murray said Pidot “was nothing more than a pawn for Tom Suozzi,” the Democratic candidate in the race.
Suozzi spokesman Mike Florio said, “Hopefully, Jack Martins is done wasting everyone’s time and money with his endless court battles and we can finally focus on issues that matter . . . We hope that this campaign will be about addressing and solving the problems we face, instead of petty personal attacks.”
Martins initially challenged Pidot’s petitions last spring, and after a lengthy battle a state court ruled that Pidot had enough valid signatures. But with only days to go before the June 28 primary, there was too little time for elections officials to get the primary on the ballot.
After Pidot won a ruling from Scullin for a new election date, Martins appealed, asking that the court either set a new date — Dec. 6 — for the general election or do away with special Oct. 6 primary.