Nicholas LaLota, Suffolk's Republican elections commissioner, said he intends to take a leave of absence to run for State Senate.
LaLota, the GOP nominee to challenge Democratic Sen. John Brooks in the 8th District, said his leave from the Board of Elections will begin March 30, the first day for filing petitions. LaLota said deputy Republican Commissioner Erin McTiernan will act in his place.
But Anita Katz, the Democratic elections commissioner, questioned whether a leave of absence would comply with state law that “was written so that a commissioner of the board of elections could not and should not run for office while commissioner.”
Katz said, “a leave of absence is not sufficient because he has not ceased to be commissioner and still retains control.”
State law prohibits elections commissioners from running for office unless they have “ceased by resignation or otherwise to be commissioner" before their "nomination or designation.”
LaLota said the word “otherwise” in the law allows him to take a leave, and that he consulted a Republican state elections official who agreed.
A state BOE representative could not be reached for comment late last week.
In Nassau, former Democratic elections commissioner David Gugerty stepped down and took a different BOE job while he ran for state Supreme Court last year.
LaLota’s run comes after he failed to get the GOP nod to run for GOP Rep. Peter King’s seat. Assemb. Andrew Garbarino (R-Sayville) got the nomination.
LaLota said he would resign from the BOE if elected to the Senate and return if he loses.