Tom Suozzi accused his rivals in the 3rd District congressional race Saturday of “petty, childish games” for attacking donations he received from Donald Trump and challenging his nominating petitions.
“I’m calling out today three of my opponents in the Democratic primary because they’re engaging in the politics of distraction,” Suozzi told reporters outside his Glen Cove headquarters.
“They’re playing the same old petty, childish games that make people sick of politics and sick of politicians,” he added.
Suozzi brushed aside challenges to his ballot-qualifying petitions from opponents Jon Kaiman, a former North Hempstead Town supervisor, and North Hempstead board member Anna Kaplan.
“I’ve been doing this long enough. I know how to get on the ballot,” Suozzi said.
The former Glen Cove mayor also discounted Suffolk Legis. Steve Stern’s gripe about donations Suozzi received from Trump seven years ago while serving as Nassau County executive.
Suozzi said he intends to focus on issues important to voters, starting with a series of 14 town hall-style meetings beginning Wednesday. He said residents in the district have more important concerns, including income inequality, the opioid epidemic and the war against terror.
The Democratic primary is June 28. The seat is held by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), who is not seeking re-election.
In a statement Saturday, Stern, of Dix Hills, said Suozzi should return the $11,000 he received from Trump and denounce the Republican presidential front-runner as “someone who opposes our core Democratic values.”
“Suozzi should . . . apologize to women everywhere who are horrified that Suozzi would proudly accept $11,000 from someone who thinks women should be punished for making their own health care decisions,” Stern said.
Kaiman, former chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, has maintained that of the 2,417 petition signatures Suozzi filed for the primary, 1,256 were invalid, leaving him 89 short of the minimum required.
“We were as surprised as everyone else that the Suozzi campaign might not have enough support to run for Congress,” Kaiman spokesman Quintin Maidment said Saturday.
Maidment said the challenge is pending before the state Board of Elections.
But the Kaplan campaign has ended its challenge. A spokesman on Saturday said the board last week invalidated 419 of Suozzi’s signatures, leaving him enough valid signatures to qualify.
Board officials could not be reached for comment.