Two Queens Assembly races that looked like they were heading for a primary will not have one after a judge’s ruling threw one candidate off the ballot and another candidate decided not to run as a court was reviewing his residency record.
In the Assembly District 26 race in northern Queens, State Supreme Court Judge Jeffrey Lebowitz ruled that Rob Speranza would not appear on the Republican primary ballot line “due to an insufficient number of legally valid required signatures.”
Although Speranza filed more than 1,500 petitions, the judge ruled that he did not have the required number of signatures from registered Republicans living inside the 26th Assembly District.
Speranza’s removal means that Vince Tabone, who is the Queens Republican Party’s choice for the seat, will not have to run in the September primary and can now focus entirely on the general election in November.
Tabone will take on the winner of the Democratic primary in District 26, which will feature four Democrats, Steve Behar, Ed Braunstein, John Duane and Elio Forcina. All of the candidates are running to fill the seat previously held by Ann-Margaret Carrozza, who is not seeking reelection.
Meanwhile, in western Queens Assembly District 36, attorney John Ciafone said he will not be on the ballot in the Democratic primary as he was facing a court challenge as to whether he actually lived in the district.
Ciafone said that even if he had won the court battle, which he termed as “50-50 chance,” it would “have been a Pyrrhic victory” because it would have required him to spend most of his time and resources battling in court instead of campaigning.
Ciafone is the second Democrat to drop out of the Assembly District 36 primary with Jeremiah Frei-Pearson announcing his intentions to drop out, just days after he filed his petitions back in July.
“The real loser is the community because Aravella [Simotas] is now running unopposed, and I don’t think that’s a good thing,” Ciafone said on Monday, August 16.
Simotas, who has been endorsed by all of the local political leaders and a number of community activists and labor organizations, will continue with platform that she has run on from the beginning of the race.
“As she has done throughout this campaign, Aravella will continue talking with her fellow Astorians about the need to create more jobs, improve our schools and reform state government,” said Simotas campaign spokesperson Mike Murphy.