Assemb. Phil Ramos speaks during a conference in Hempstead on June...

Assemb. Phil Ramos speaks during a conference in Hempstead on June 8, 2019. Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

Assemb. Phil Ramos is trying to simultaneously run for two seats in the State Legislature, a strategy open to him after a court-ordered redrawing of State Senate districts.

Ramos (D-Brentwood) already is on the ballot for State Assembly, running for an 11th term. But he’s also gathering petitions to run in an Aug. 23 primary for the 4th Senate District.

That would pit him against Monica Martinez, who is backed by Suffolk County Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer, and set up a huge intraparty battle in the Hispanic-plurality Senate district.

Ramos told Newsday that although he’s running for reelection in the Assembly, his preference is to be in the Senate where he can “do bigger and better things for the county.”

Schaffer called running for two office at once the “height of arrogance.”

And there’s some personal history here: Martinez defeated Ramos’ wife, Angela, in a 2017 Democratic primary for a county legislative seat.

Normally, a candidate is prohibited from running for two offices at the same time. But a fight over redistricting has made it possible this year only.

New York, like all states, had to redraw its congressional and legislative districts this year to reflect changes in the latest U.S. census. After the Democratic-led State Legislature approved new maps, Republicans successfully sued to get the congressional and State Senate districts declared unconstitutional. The lawsuit didn’t impact the Assembly lines.

Besides ordering new lines for Congress and Senate, the courts set primaries in those contests for Aug. 23 and changed the dates for qualifying for the ballot.

Friday is the deadline for gathering the 850 petition signatures he needs to get in the Senate primary and he’ll get more than that, Ramos said.

Asked why he’s jumping in against Martinez, who already had the endorsement of the Democratic County Committee, Ramos said: “Monica is not an incumbent.”

Asked if Schaffer tried to talk him out of it, Ramos said: “I can’t say he tried to talk me out of it. He said he was going to back Monica and so the chips are going to fall where they may.”

If Ramos wins the Senate primary, he said he formally would decline his Assembly nomination, creating a vacancy on the ballot that a local Democratic committee could fill.

A state Board of Elections official confirmed Ramos legally can run in the Senate primary and later be removed from the Assembly ballot.

Schaffer called Ramos’ strategy unfair to voters.

“He thinks he can run for both offices at the same time and game the system," Schaffer said. "It’s not fair to the voters of that district.”

Martinez, also of Brentwood, was a senator for one term, 2019-2020, before losing reelection in a politically split district.

But the new 4th Senate District is much more favorable to Democrats based on the new maps. It runs from Islandia to the Nassau County line at Farmingdale. Nearly 62% of its residents voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

Hispanics account for 43% of the population, not a majority but far bigger than any other group in the district. It’s the first Hispanic-plurality Senate district on Long Island.

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