Text Resize

-A A +A

Congress petition challenges distract from issues: Suozzi

April 30, 2016


Noah Manskar
The Island Now

Democratic congressional candidate Tom Suozzi charged his opponents with playing “politics of distraction” by challenging his ballot petitions this week.
Flanked by canvassers outside his Glen Cove campaign office on Saturday, Suozzi said three other Democrats vying to replace Rep. Steve Israel are not focusing on the issues that affect the people of the North Shore’s Third District, such as jobs, affordable health care and federal funding for local infrastructure.
“They’re playing the same old petty, childish games that make people sick of politicians, and sick of politicians,” said Suozzi, a Glen Cove native and former Nassau County executive.
Suozzi called “destructive” the objections to hundreds of his ballot petition signatures that the campaigns of former North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman and current North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan filed this week, as well as Steve Stern’s previous calls for him to return a $11,000 donation he once received from Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.
He said he could not remember ever having signatures challenged in any other race he’s run.
“I want my opponents to do what I’m doing, which is to talk about the issues and to talk to the people, because that’s what this campaign should be about — about actually solving the real problems that people face in their lives,” he said.
Kaiman spokesman Quintin Maidment said it is still unclear that Suozzi has the required 1,250 valid signatures to get on the ballot, but Kaplan spokesman Reginald Johnson said the town councilwoman’s campaign is satisfied Suozzi has enough.
The petition Suozzi filed with the state Board of Elections April 18 had more than 2,400 signatures, but Kaiman’s campaign charged Monday that enough were invalid to make Suozzi ineligible to run in the district stretching from Whitestone, Queens, to Kings Park to get on the June 28 primary ballot.
“We simply don’t think that expecting every candidate in this race to meet the legal requirements to run is petty,” Maidment said in a phone interview.
Kaplan’s campaign challenged 1,327 of Suozzi’s signatures, and the Board of Elections found 419 of those were invalid, spokesman Reginald Johnson said. The campaign will not appeal for more signatures to be thrown out, he said.
“The challenges were filed to ensure a level playing field,” Johnson said in a statement. And while the Board of Elections has determined that the Suozzi campaign submitted hundreds of invalid signatures, we’re satisfied that he has collected enough to be on the ballot.”
Stern, a Suffolk County legislator from Dix HIlls, filed general objections to Suozzi’s petition but did not challenge specific signatures.
In a statement, Stern said he spent Saturday talking with Queens voters and maintained his call for Suozzi to return Trump’s donation, saying it indicates his “weak” record on abortion rights.
Trump has given to campaigns for Democratic senators Kristen Gillibrand and Charles Schumer.
"Tom Suozzi is pro-choice and Steve Stern knows it," Suozzi campaign manager Mike Florio said in a statement. "Stern is a fool and will say anything, even lies, in order to get votes."
Suozzi also said he will talk with voters at 14 “town hall” events over the next two months, starting in Hicksville on May 4.
Suozzi’s campaign also trained the first group of about 50 canvassers Saturday in advance of its door-to-door operation starting Monday, campaign manager Mike Florio said.
About 30 volunteers are also on board as the campaign shifts from fundraising and gathering signatures to winning votes, he said.