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Judge orders Oct. 6 primary in 3rd congressional district

Philip Pidot poses for a portrait on Saturday,

Philip Pidot poses for a portrait on Saturday, August 15, 2015. Credit: James Escher

Philip Pidot won a federal court ruling Wednesday to force a special Oct. 6 Republican primary against state Sen. Jack Martins in the 3rd Congressional District.

The decision raises the possibility of a conflict with earlier federal court edicts that military ballots be sent out 45 days before Election Day.

U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin set the primary election date in a ruling from the bench after an hourlong court hearing in Syracuse.

“I’m delighted,” said Pidot, who did not attend the court hearing. “We certainly expected the outcome but nothing was assured given the frustrations we’ve had in the last few months. But this was the only plausible solution.”

Pidot had won a lengthy battle in late June to validate that he had more than the 1,250 petition signatures necessary to qualify for a Republican primary.

But a state court ruled the decision came too late for the election to be held on the June 28 federal primary date. A state appellate court subsequently turned down Pidot’s request for a new election date because he had not sought a new date in his original court papers.

“We are confident we will win in November because of the overwhelming support Jack Martins has continued to receive across the district and in his previous elections,” said E. O’Brien Murray, Martins’ spokesman.

“Jack’s record of fighting for lower taxes, a stronger economy and the families he represents is a message the voters support overwhelmingly,” Murray said.

Murray said the State Board of Elections will have to seek a waiver from U.S. Justice Department because of earlier federal court rulings requiring that military ballots go out 45 days before Nov. 8.

“These are uncharted waters,” he said. Pidot said he was surprised the date was set so late and expected that the court might have used the state primary date of Sept. 13.

The ruling comes six weeks after former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi won a five-way Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington). The 3rd District spans the North Shore of Nassau, Suffolk and Queens.

A late-date GOP primary could force the more moderate Martins to tilt right in a battle with hard-line conservative Pidot at a time Martins normally would be trying to steer toward the center against Suozzi.

“People are sick and tired of petty insider political games that Martins plays,” said Suozzi. “It serves him right for wasting everyone’s time trying to kick Pidot off the ballot, yet he persists in trying to knock ‘Fix Washington’ and the Libertarian candidate off the ballot.”

Suozzi has filed petitions with state election officials for an independent campaign ballot line, Fix Washington.

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