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Suffolk Democrat Martinez faces petition challenges

Monica Martinez is seen on May 22, 2017.

Monica Martinez is seen on May 22, 2017. Credit: James Escher

Suffolk Legis. Monica Martinez, who two years ago lost the Democratic ballot line in a petition battle, is facing a new petition challenge from backers of her primary foe Angela Ramos who say she lacks the minium 500 signatures.

But Luis Montes, Islip Democratic chairman, said Ramos’ petition challenge is “a lot of nonsense.” Montes said the cover sheet cites only 523 objections to Martinez’s 1,046 petition signatures adding that’s not enough to knock her off the ballot.

A spokesman for Ramos’ campaign later acknowledged there may have been a mistake on the cover sheet filed with the Suffolk Board of Elections. He claimed the correct number of objections listed in the challenge itself totals more than 550, enough to have Martinez’s petitions disqualified. The spokesman added the campaign was looking for a way to rectify the problem, but could not assess its chances.

Zachary Perez and Rose Rodriguez, Ramos supporters who filed the objections, said the county lawmaker’s petitions included signatures that were improperly witnessed, and others from people who live outside the district or are not voters.

Ramos, whose husband is Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood), filed more than 3,200 signatures. Ramos has raised $84,300, but $60,000 came from personal loans she and her husband made to the campaign. She has spent $49,740 for political consultants, the Advance Group, for campaign work including collecting petition signatures.

Ramos’ challenge comes after Martinez in 2015 as a freshman lawmaker, was forced to withdraw from the Democratic line after opponents claimed she and her aides personally witnessed petition signatures where individuals signed for themselves and family members. Critics at the time said Martinez’s actions should have led to fraud charges. Martinez won running on the Working Families and Independence Party lines.

Before the error was discovered, Ramos acknowledged that Martinez did not personally witness any petition signatures this year. “She learned her lesson,” but added, “Due to her track record, I think there’s a good chance we can knock her off the ballot.”

Montes, a former Ramos aide and now Martinez’s campaign manager, said the challenge “shows they are not ready for prime time to take on Monica.” He said the party’s petitions for Martinez were gathered by committee members with years of experience who know how to do the job correctly. Martinez also is running on the Independence Party and Women’s Equality Party lines.

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