Republican congressional candidate Jack Martins is trying to block Democrat Tom Suozzi’s bid for a third-party ballot line.
The Old Westbury state senator’s campaign last week challenged nearly 3,500 of the 5,718 petition signatures Suozzi collected for a “Fix Washington” ballot line in the 3rd Congressional District, saying dozens of signatures were fraudulent and at least two belonged to dead voters.
Suozzi’s petitions contained several signatures from people who never signed them, including one of Martins’ Senate staffers, said E. O’Brien Murray, Martins’ senior campaign strategist. Others signatures were illegible or from voters who live outside the North Shore district, he said.
Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive, made a filing in state Supreme Court last week asking a judge to validate his petition for the “Fix Washington” line in case the state Board of Elections rejects it. Suozzi created the line to attract voters who might not want to cast Democratic ballots.
“He knows these petitions are in grave danger and he’s panicked, attempting to try to make sure the petitions that have fraud scattered throughout them still gives him a line,” Murray said.
The New York Post last week first reported two “Fix Washington” petition signatures from dead Williston Park voters.
Martins’ campaign alleges at least four Suozzi campaigners collected fraudulent signatures, Murray said. Suozzi’s campaign says it has only found one paid worker who collected bad signatures and he was fired immediately after the campaign discovered what he did.
“Jack Martins is so worried about his record of raising property taxes, defending Dean Skelos and voting for Trump that he’s doing everything he can to kick everyone off the ballot. It won’t work,” said Kim Devlin, a Suozzi campaign consultant, referring to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and former state Sen. Dean Skelos, who was convicted on federal corruption charges last year.
Suozzi and Martins each raised property taxes as county executive and mayor of Mineola, respectively. Martins says he is voting for Trump but not endorsing him. Martins defended Skelos, his Republican colleague, on the state Senate floor last year and wanted him to remain the chamber’s majority leader after his arrest last May.
In an email, Murray said Skelos and convicted state Assemblyman Sheldon Silver “broke our trust,” but countered that Suozzi “has proven once again he can’t be trusted.”
The state Board of Elections will issue a final decision on the “Fix Washington” petition at its Sept. 15 board meeting, when it is set to certify the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election.
Suozzi faced challenges in April to his petition for the Democratic primary ballot. Martins petitioned for the Independence line in the spring but did not get enough valid signatures.
Reach reporter Noah Manskar by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 516.307.1045 x204. Also follow us on Twitter @noahmanskar and Facebook at facebook.com/theislandnow.