Republican state chairman Ed Cox is siding with Jack Martins in calling for delaying a key Long Island congressional election until December.
It’s the latest development in a political battle to replace retiring Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills), a fight that escalated earlier this month when a federal judge ordered an Oct. 6 Republican primary between Sen. Martins (R-Old Westbury) and challenger Philip Pidot. The winner would face Democrat Tom Suozzi in November.
But Martins now is asking the court to postpone the general election, contending there isn’t enough time between the October primary and November Election Day to allow military personnel and overseas residents to cast ballots.
Cox issued a statement Tuesday backing Martins.
“Holding the general election in New York’s 3rd congressional district on November 8th will deprive men and women serving in our military abroad the right to vote in this important election,” Cox said. “I join in the call to move the election to December 6th so that our military members who will be forced to vote by absentee ballot can exercise their fundamental right to participate in the democracy they are overseas fighting to protect.”
Democrats have said moving the election would cost the taxpayers’ millions of dollars; they also suggest it’s a way for Martins to distance himself from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Should Martins prevail in his postponement request, the congressional election would move from a high turnout day that typically helps Democrats more than Republicans in New York to a special election that likely would draw 10 percent or fewer of the district’s voters.
Pidot had sought to challenge Martins – the GOP-endorsed candidate – in June, when New York’s other congressional primaries were held. He won a court battle to get on the ballot – but the prolonged fight concluded at such a late date that a state judge had ruled it was “impossible” to amend the ballot in time for the June primary. That determination was overturned effectively by the federal court ruling last week.
Pidot said it was “no surprise that party insiders would circle the wagons” around Martins, referring to Cox’s statement.