By Nathan Duke
Congressional hopeful Jun Policarpio said he has been kicked off the Republican ballot in his bid to unseat long-term U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) after he failed to gather enough valid signatures, but the Douglaston Manor resident will remain in the race on the Conservative ballot.
Queens County Republican Party congressional candidate Elizabeth Berney had called for a criminal investigation into both Policarpio and Ackerman's campaigns, alleging that both opponents included fake signatures on their petitions. The state Elections Board did not address Berney's charges, but removed Policarpio from the Republican ballot after he failed to gather enough signatures.
Policarpio needed 1,250 signatures to get on the Republican ballot, but was short by an estimated 83 signatures, said Joshua Ehrlich, Policarpio's attorney. But he had 126 signatures to get him on the Conservative ballot, which requires 105 signatures, Ehrlich said.
Berney, a practicing attorney from Great Neck who specializes in securities fraud and consumer safety, had also attempted to remove Policarpio from the Conservative ballot, but he remained on the ticket and will run as its candidate this fall.
“I feel I'm being persecuted by local leaders because of my ethnic background and my accent,” said Policarpio, a Philippines native who ran against Ackerman in 2004. “It's racial prejudice. But I have an aspiration to run.”
Policarpio said he has filed a complaint against Berney with the State Supreme Court on similar charges.
Berney and Policarpio will no longer face off in a September primary. But Berney, who also failed to get Ackerman kicked off the Independence Party ballot, vowed she would continue to seek a criminal investigation of her opponents' signatures.
She also blasted Policarpio's decision to continue his run as a Conservative.
“It is a pity that Policarpio is still on the Conservative ballot line,” she said. “[He] has no hope of winning a general election and any vote for him will be wasted.”
Berney said she has also filed a court challenge after the state Elections Board permitted Policarpio to remain on the Conservative ballot. She said the board scheduled separate hearings on her challenges to Ackerman and Policarpio at the same time, preventing her from attending both.
Ackerman has held his 5th Congressional District seat for 26 years. The seat covers a number of neighborhoods, including Bayside, Flushing, Whitestone, Corona, Douglaston, Jamaica Estates and Little Neck as well as several Long Island communities.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.