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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Judge keeps key LI congressional election in November

From left, state Sen. Jack Martins, Thomas Suozzi

From left, state Sen. Jack Martins, Thomas Suozzi and Philip Pidot. Martins and Pidot will face off in the Oct. 6 GOP primary, with the winner facing Democrat Suozzi in the Nov. 8 election to fill retiring Democrat Rep. Steve Israel's seat in the 3rd Congressional District. Credit: James Escher

ALBANY — A federal judge refused Tuesday to move the general election for the 3rd Congressional District on Long Island and Queens to December, which would have limited any impact of the presidential campaign.

As a result, the winner of the Oct. 6 Republican primary between state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Old Westbury) and Philip Pidot, a Glen Cove financial analyst, will face Democrat Thomas Suozzi, the former Nassau County executive, on Nov. 8 in the general election, as scheduled.

The winner will replace Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills), who is retiring.

The GOP primary was moved from June to October after a lengthy court battle in which Martins unsuccessfully tried to knock Pidot off the ballot. Martins had challenged whether Pidot had the 1,250 valid signatures needed to qualify for the primary. A state court eventually ruled Pidot did, but the projected fight meant it was too late for Pidot to get on the June 28 primary ballot. So the court set Oct. 6 for the primary.

Martins argued the general election also should be set later, on Dec. 6, to allow for overseas and military ballots to be received in time for the general election.

But on Monday, the U.S. Department of Defense granted a waiver to allow the November election — an action that factored into the decision of federal Judge Frederick Scullin on Tuesday.

Scullin said the waiver made further delay unnecessary and “could create more problems than it would solve.”

Martins said the decision in U.S. District Court in Albany will disenfranchise voters.

“That the court took steps to protect the military’s right to vote in a primary election, but not in the general election, where far more people will be affected, is equally unprecedented and, frankly, unfathomable,” Martins said in a written statement. “The federal court’s decision disregards the federal law designed to protect our servicemen and women and compromises our military’s right to vote in the general election.”

In contrast, Suozzi and Pidot blasted Martins for trying to delay the election, which, among other things would have cost taxpayers’ money.

“I’m not sure how many courts need to tell Jack Martins that the way to get elected to Congress is to debate the issues with your opponents in front of voters,” Suozzi campaign manager Mike Florio said. “Hopefully, this time he will listen and stop wasting taxpayer money and everyone’s time and allow the people to decide who will fight for them in Washington, not judges in Albany.”

“Jack Martins has finally run out of lawsuits in his attempt to subvert democracy on Long Island and in Queens,” Pidot said in a written statement. “His actions over these past four months have been nothing less than disgraceful.”

Local and state Democratic election officials sought to keep the general date Nov. 8.

Martins’ attorney, Jason Torchinsky, argued that’s evidence that Democrats saw an advantage to have the general election on Nov. 8, the same day as the presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and just days after what would have been a bruising primary between the two Republicans.

Pidot’s attorney, David V. Simunovich, and lawyers for the state Board of Elections argued that moving the congressional election to December would cost taxpayers more than $1 million and probably bring out 100,000 fewer voters


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