By Patrick Donachie
Several Democratic candidates vying to replace Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville) in the 3rd Congressional District asserted that some of the signatures collected by Tom Suozzi’s campaign to qualify for the ballot should be viewed as invalid by the state Board of Elections, but the Suozzi campaign countered that his opponents were playing politics.
The Suozzi campaign announced on Thursday afternoon that the BOE agreed that he had gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot at a BOE meeting held earlier in the day.
“These sloppy attempts by our opponents to throw Tom off the ballot were a complete failure,” Mike Florio, the manager for Suozzi’s campaign, said. “Tom Suozzi gets things done and getting on the ballot was easy. Now let’s focus on the real issues and stop the politics of distraction.”
The campaigns for North Hempstead Town Board member Anna Kaplan and former North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman had filed separate challenges against the Suozzi campaign over the validity of the signatures. To qualify for the ballot in the Democratic primary, each candidate had to acquire more than 1,250 signatures from Democratic voters who live in the district.
According to a count done by the Kaiman campaign, Suozzi’s campaign fell 89 valid signatures short of qualification.
“We were as surprised as everyone else that he didn’t have the support to get on the ballot,” a spokesman for the Kaiman campaign said in an interview prior to the BOE decision.
During a press conference at his headquarters in Glen Cove on April 30, Suozzi said both the Kaiman and Kaplan challenges to the campaign’s signatures were unsubstantiated and called for both campaigns not to engage in “petty politics.”
“There is a reason that people hate politics and politicians these days,” he said.
The Suozzi campaign had claimed that it submitted 2,504 signatures in total, exceeding the 1,250 minimum, and argued that the Kaiman challenge was invalid because the person whose name was on the challenge did not live within the boundaries of the district. The campaign said that an initial BOE review of Kaplan’s challenge found that slightly more than 400 signatures gathered by the Suozzi camp were deemed invalid, which kept him above the minimum number of signatures required. The BOE could not be reached for comment prior to press time.
Suozzi, Kaplan and Kaiman are all running in the Democratic primary for the 3rd Congressional District, along with Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern and attorney Jonathan Clarke. The district includes much of Suffolk County as well as parts of northeastern Queens. The primary election is scheduled for June 28.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona