Appellate Division Upholds Democrat’s Bid to Challenge Abinanti

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It appears Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, above, will have a challenger in the June 23 primary after the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Irvington resident Jennifer Williams’ bid to be on the ballot.

The state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division last Thursday validated a Democratic challenger’s petition to be on the June 23 primary ballot against Assemblyman Tom Abinanti (D-Pleasantville).

It now appears that Irvington resident Jennifer Williams will contest the Democratic nomination next month against the five-term incumbent in the 92nd Assembly District.

“My opponent has expended so much taxpayer money on this matter already,” Williams said of the decision on her campaign’s Facebook page. “I just hope that he is finally ready to let the voters, not the courts, decide who is best suited to represent the Rivertowns in Albany as their Assemblywoman.”

Abinanti said that the Democratic chairs in the towns of Mount Pleasant and Greenburgh, the two towns that the district covers, filed objections to Williams’ petition at the Westchester County Board of Elections shortly after it was submitted. The Board of Elections agreed with the challenge and kept her off the ballot.

Williams, a small business owner and first-time candidate for public office, challenged the decision in state Supreme Court and received a favorable ruling. Abinanti then went to the Appellate Division, where again Williams prevailed last week.

Abinanti said he has pursued the challenge because at the top of her petition it wasn’t clear whether Williams was running for the Assembly or for the state committee from the 92nd District. There are two candidates from the district running for the committee.

“She did not cross anything out when she submitted the petition,” Abinanti said. “She used the language public office or party position, so hers basically can be indistinguishable from somebody running for the state committee.”

But Williams said that Abinanti as a lawyer was searching for technicalities to deny her a shot at the seat. It’s a typical ploy when members of “the old guard” are unexpectedly challenged, she said.

“Five judges have all agreed on the same verdict and it’s a very simple example of the oldest trick in the book – tie someone up, waste someone’s time, bankrupt their campaign and win in the courts and deny people a choice,” Williams said. “That to me, it’s not correct.”

Abinanti is going to the Court of Appeals in a final attempt to end her candidacy. He indicated that he doesn’t think the courts right now are willing to knock anyone off the ballot even though there are multiple precedents around the state where a nearly identical miscue was made and the courts upheld the Board of Elections decision.

But the assemblyman said he believes that a representative can’t make an error that only a novice would commit.

“This is a legal document,” Abinanti said. “You’re going to have to read the laws you’ll have to vote on. You’re going to have to draft laws your going to vote on. If you don’t know what office you’re running for, how are you going to do the job?”

No Republicans are running for their party’s nomination to contest the seat in November.

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