PoliticsThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Democrat Sues to Force Congressional Primary; Jones Challenges Other Foe

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Caption: A little more than a week ago, Mondaire Jones, the likely Democratic candidate in the 17th Congressional District, has seen would-be primary opponent Mary Ann Carr sue the Board of Elections to get on the ballot while the Jones campaign is challenging the signatures for a Working Families Party hopeful.

It will likely be known this week whether 17th Congressional District Democratic candidate Mondaire Jones will have a primary opponent after two separate court filings were submitted recently regarding disputed nominating petitions.

Hearings were set on Monday before the state Board of Elections in the case of Democratic underdog candidate and former Bedford supervisor Mary Ann Carr, who fell 127 signatures short of the minimum number to gain access to the ballot, while Jones is trying to disqualify Working Families Party hopeful Anthony Frascone.

Carr argued in her Apr. 12 lawsuit that her bid to get on the ballot was thwarted because there was a two-day delay to the start of the petitioning period. The Independent Redistricting Committee voted to approve revised congressional maps on Feb. 15, but those were not approved by the state legislature until Feb. 26. Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the legislation on Feb. 28.

Instead of Feb. 27 being the first day of circulating petitions, it was Feb. 29 before the candidates could start collecting signatures.

Carr said she would have picked up the required signatures had she had the two additional days. Her campaign collected 1,123 signatures, shy of the 1,250 valid signatures to get on the ballot.

“Due to the unforeseen delay in the approval of the district lines and the subsequent compressed timeline for petitioning, Petitioner regrettably ran out of time to collect the remaining…required signatures,” stated Carr’s lawsuit, which was filed in Albany County. “It is the Petitioner’s contention that, had there been an additional two days allotted for the petitioning process, the necessary signatures would have been obtained. The shortfall in signatures is thus directly attributable to the abbreviated petitioning period and not to any lack of effort or commitment on the part of the Petitioner.”

When reached last week, attorney Daniel Bright, who is representing Jones in the two matters, said Carr’s challenge is not credible because the Board of Elections has no authority to reduce the number of signatures that are needed, only the state legislature. Since no action was taken to either extend the petition period or reduce the signatures, Carr fell short.

“To say the law is unfair doesn’t get you out of having to comply with the law,” Bright said.

In the matter surrounding the challenge of Frascone’s Working Families Party petition, the filing on behalf of Jones in state Supreme Court in Albany County, also on Apr. 12, contended that there were 23 signatures that the campaign found were invalid, putting Frascone short of the number needed to get on the ballot to force a primary.

For 21 of those names, signatures did not appear to match those in the Voter Record Reports, also referred to as “buff cards.” In the two other instances, no Voter Record Report could be found on file with the Rockland County Board of Elections, the lawsuit stated.

Late last week, it was unclear whether a decision on both matters would occur by the end of the day on Monday, although frequently that happens, Bright said.

Bright explained that Frascone, who has run multiple previous campaigns, including on Republican and Independence Party lines, signaling he is more conservative politically, was likely trying to assist Republican incumbent Rep. Mike Lawler by trying to take a second line and some votes away from Jones.

“His challenge and his attempt to run himself in that primary is being done to help Mike Lawler because I think they’re worried that it’s going to be a close election and it’s going to be harder to beat Mondaire if Mondaire is on that line in November,” Bright said.

Last week the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) took a shot at Jones for looking to prevent challenges to his status as the Democrats’ anointed candidate.

“Mondaire Jones is trying to stifle voices from fellow Democrats and now from the Working Families Party,” said NRCC spokeswoman Savannah Viar. “He needs to answer what he’s so afraid of.”

Bright dismissed the comments from the NRCC as typical election year remarks.

“There are always gadflies, just people who are neophytes who try to get on the ballot, and then it’s also common for other candidates to file objections to try and keep other names off the ballot,” Bright said.

Primaries are scheduled for Tuesday, June 25.

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