ALBANY — A lengthy legal battle to move the general election for the 3rd Congressional District to December could set up a national showdown in which the race would determine which party controls the House of Representatives, warned one of the Republican candidates in the fight.
“If the November 8, 2016, election results in a one-vote majority in the House of Representatives, for example, a December 6 special congressional election in New York would take on far greater importance than the others,” argued Martins’ primary challenger, Republican Philip Pidot of Glen Cove, through his filings in a federal appeals court Thursday.
Pidot’s primary opponent, Jack Martins, a state senator from Old Westbury, wants to move the general election from Nov. 8, the date of national presidential and congressional elections, because a court moved the district’s Republican primary from June to Oct. 6.
Martins said the congressional race needed to be moved back if the primary was delayed to allow absentee ballots to get to military voters overseas and to allow him to fully campaign against the Democrat in the race, Thomas Suozzi of Glen Cove. However, the Department of Defense granted a waiver to its requirement that military voters get at least 45 days to receive their absentee ballots.
Pidot argued that Congress set a national Election Day to avoid providing any one state with an “undue advantage” or subjecting voters to a “double election.”
Pidot, a financial analyst, also argued that if the 3rd Congressional District general election was moved to December, at least 158,000 and as many as 284,000 fewer voters would be expected to go to the polls.
The Republican primary was moved because Martins had challenged Pidot’s nominating petitions in court. The case was resolved in Pidot’s favor, but too late for the June congressional primary.
A federal judge last week rejected Martins’ attempt to move the general election for the congressional race from Nov. 8 to Dec. 6. Martins’ appeal of that decision is scheduled for Wednesday in a federal appeals court.
The federal appeals also could choose to change or cancel the Oct. 6 Republican primary.
“We have always said this is about protecting the rights of the military voters and other absentee voters who deserve the same protection in a general election as in a primary,” said Martins’ spokesman E. O’Brien Murray.
Murray called Pidot “a pawn for Tom Suozzi” and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for making the Republican primary longer and more costly.
Pidot rejected the accusation.
“Tom and I couldn’t be further apart on most policy issues, but what I can say in Tom’s defense is that he has run a much cleaner campaign than Jack Martins,” Pidot said in an interview. “But that’s a low bar.”