A state Supreme Court justice found late Thursday that Republican primary challenger Philip Pidot has enough signatures to qualify for a GOP congressional primary against State Sen. Jack Martins, but will not issue a formal decision until Friday on the ultimate fate of a primary, which would either be held Tuesday or a at later date.
Justice Arthur Diamond found Pidot had more than the 1,250 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot, but state and local election officials have maintained there is not enough time logistically meet the requirements of a federal court order that has mandated the June 28 congressional primary to protect military balloting.
“Today we’ve proven that a corrupt Long Island political machine can be beaten, but the job is not yet done,” said Pidot, a conservative Republican from Glen Cove. “Democracy is on trial in New York and this is a trial that must be won.”
While there was no official ruling, E. O’Brien Murray, Martins’ spokesman, said, “The judge made very clear today there will be no Republican primary” and he cited “the extraordinary amount of time it took [for Pidot] to make his appeal.”
John Sweeney, Pidot’s lawyer, countered that Republican attorneys have dragged their feet throughout the lawsuit and forced a line-by-line review of more than 200 signatures in hearings that lasted most of the week. He said the judge found Pidot had at least 1,257 legitimate signatures and as many as 1,261, pending verifications from state elections officials to challenges.
Pidot’s lawyer said Diamond will issue a formal ruling on Friday at 11 a.m., after which Pidot will decide whether to appeal the decision to the state Appellate Division in Brooklyn or go to federal court.
“There are very serious federal implications at play here because of the arcane laws of New York and the chicanery of the judicial process, which could not only not deprive the candidate of his right to run, but the public’s opportunity to have a choice,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney added there is little state legal precedent to go on because New York primaries are normally held in September, which leaves no time for a later primary before the general election. “But now we have 4 1⁄2 months, and there is time to meet all the federal requirements,” said Sweeney.
“Pidot just thinks the rules don’t apply to him,” said Murray. “He wants to play by a different set of rules.”
He said he doubted the state or federal court would authorize a new election.