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Rainey Tossed Off Ballot; Democratic Assembly Primary Down to Three

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Former Peekskill mayor Andrew Rainey was kicked off the primary ballot after one of his opponents challenged signatures on his petition.

The race to replace retiring longtime Assemblywoman Sandy Galef in the 95th District is down to three Democratic hopefuls as former Peekskill mayor Andre Rainey was removed last week from the June 28 primary ballot.

Rainey was informed by the state Board of Elections last Thursday that only 494 of the 749 signatures he submitted on his petitions were deemed valid following a challenge from Westchester County Legislator Colin Smith, leaving him six signatures short of the minimum needed to qualify.

The primary will now consist of Smith, Ossining Supervisor Dana Levenberg and former Peekskill councilwoman Vanessa Agudelo in the primary.

“Though I wish this could’ve been a campaign based on policy, debates and vision, the technicalities have unfortunately made the difference,” Rainey stated Saturday on Facebook.

“Importantly, it’s a valuable lesson learned. Though the Republicans tried to drag me through the mud, attack my character in past campaigns, it took one of my own, a friend and colleague, to remove me from the ballot to run for office. As disappointing as it may be, I’m being reminded by Colin and others that this is the world of politics.”

Rainey, who served four years as Peekskill mayor before deciding against seeking re-election last year, explained 75 of the signatures he submitted from registered Democratic voters were disqualified because they signed for more than one candidate and 180 were disqualified for writing their mailing address rather than the municipality in which they live. For example, if a person lives in Montrose, they would have to write Cortlandt or if they live in Shrub Oak, they’d have to write Yorktown.

“I’ve never treated politics as a game,” Rainey said in a previous release. “When I campaigned to become mayor of Peekskill, Republicans used everything they had to run against me – my family, my race, even my work with children. In this race, I see my old friend and colleague Colin Smith pouring money into a legal gamble to remove me from the ballot.”

Smith campaign spokesman David Belsky said Smith, who submitted more than 1,800 signatures, did not challenge the petitions submitted by Levenberg or Agudelo since they far exceeded the requisite number.

“We’re proud that our volunteers worked tirelessly to collect almost 2,000 signatures in support of Colin’s candidacy – far more than other campaigns,” Belsky stated. “We now look ahead to the primary and will continue to engage with voters on the issues that matter most to our communities.”

Galef, who has served in the Assembly for 30 years, has endorsed Levenberg.

The 95th District includes Peekskill, Cortlandt, Ossining, Philipstown and part of Yorktown.

New Date for Some Primaries

The primaries in Assembly races are still scheduled for June 28 even though a new date has been set for New York’s congressional and state Senate primaries following the state Court of Appeals ruling late last week that Democrats excessively gerrymandered districts.

The new primary date for congressional and state Senate races is now Aug. 23 to allow an independent third party that will be overseen by the court to draw new lines and permit candidates to collect signatures for petitions.

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