Democratic congressional candidate Tom Suozzi is still fighting for his “Fix Washington” ballot line in court more than a month after he announced the effort.
While a state Supreme Court judge dismissed allegations from supporters of Jack Martins, Suozzi’s Republican rival in the 3rd Congressional District, that his petition for the third-party line was rife with fraud, a court review may leave Suozzi with fewer than the required 3,500 signatures from registered voters, said E. O’Brien Murray, Martins’ senior campaign strategist.
“Instead of whining about getting called out for cheating, he [Suozzi] should tell his lawyers to stop trying to sneak these bogus signatures in and accept responsibility,” Murray said in a statement Tuesday.
But Suozzi’s campaign says the state Board of Elections’ revised signature count on Friday leaves him with more than 3,700 signatures of the 5,700 he submitted.
Martins’ lawyers want to discard valid signatures for trivial reasons such as misspelled information, said Mike Florio, Suozzi’s campaign manager.
“They’re going to fight for their stuff and we’re going to fight for ours and we’ll see where it ends up at the end of the day,” Florio said.
Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive, asked Judge James McCormack to validate his petition last month after supporters of Martins, an Old Westbury state senator, objected to thousands of the “Fix Washington” signatures. He introduced the ballot line to attract voters in the district stretching from northeast Queens to northwest Suffolk County who might be averse to a Democrat.
The Board of Elections on Friday found 1,931 of Suozzi’s submitted signatures invalid, leaving him with 3,781, enough for the “Fix Washington” line to make the Nov. 8 general election ballot, according to a board document provided by Suozzi’s campaign.
The court finished its review of signatures from Nassau County on Tuesday and has thrown out more than 2,200 because the voters weren’t registered or lived outside the district, Murray said, including 286 that will be subtracted from the Board of Elections’ total. That would leave Suozzi five signatures short.
The court has yet to review dozens of signatures Martins’ supporters allege are fraudulent or forged and should also be thrown out, including three from dead voters and one from a man who was in Pennsylvania when the petition says he signed it, Murray said.
“It’s been going down every day and we haven’t even taken out for the frauds yet,” he said.
Two weeks ago, McCormack rejected Martins’ supporters’ request that Suozzi’s petition be thrown out on the ground that it is permeated with bad signatures collected by four of his campaign workers.
Suozzi’s campaign fired the worker who listed dead voters on the petition before he declined to testify under the Fifth Amendment. The campaign has maintained fraudulent signatures should not be counted, but Murray says his lawyers have argued in court to include them and tried to block evidence that would prove them invalid.
“If there are other cases where this comes up or the signature is forged, then yes, it should not count,” Florio said.
The court’s review of “Fix Washington” signatures from Suffolk County and Queens will continue this week.
Martins and Suozzi will likely face off in November. Martins first faces an Oct. 6 Republican primary against Philip Pidot, a Glen Cove fraud investigator.