Jul 16, 2022 - Politics & Policy

House Republican removed as third-party candidate in N.Y. governor's race

Lee Zeldin
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) speaks during his election night party at the Coral House on June 28. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The gubernatorial campaign of U.S. Rep Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) submitted roughly 13,000 invalid signatures in an effort to appear on the ballot as a third-party candidate, New York's Board of Elections determined this week.

Why it matters: Zeldin, an ally of former President Trump, gained national prominence as one of the House Republicans who voted against the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. After pushing conspiracy theories about election fraud, his political opponents say his campaign's actions amount to hypocrisy.

State of play: Zeldin won New York's Republican primary for governor last month, but he was seeking to have his name appear on an additional line of the ballot as a candidate of the Independence Party, the Hill reports.

  • Candidates in New York can appear on the ballot more than once if they meet qualifications. For example, Incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, will appear on the ballot on the Democratic Party and Working Families Party lines, per The Hill.
  • To qualify to appear on one of the third-party lines, a candidate must submit the handwritten signatures of 45,000 registered voters.
  • Zeldin's campaign submitted roughly 52,000 signatures by the May 31 filing deadline, but the board ruled this week that about 13,000 of them were invalid, the Times-Union reports. That left him about 6,000 short of the threshold.
  • New York’s Libertarian Party initiated the challenge to Zeldin’s signatures, saying in a release that 11,000 of them were photocopies, a violation, according to a press release.

What they’re saying: “Let’s not forget: Lee Zeldin was one of the many far-right Republicans who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election under the guise of election fraud — a dangerous conspiracy theory peddled by Donald Trump and his pawns in Congress,” said Jay Jacobs, chair of the state’s Democratic Party, in a statement, per the Hill.

  • “Now, Zeldin submitting 11,000 fake signatures just emphasizes his hypocrisy and proves he is willing to sell New Yorkers another ‘Big Lie’ to benefit his failing campaign," Jacobs told the Hill.

The other side: Katie Vincentz, a spokesman for Zeldin's campaign, said it hadn't reviewed all the signatures submitted to the board, per the Times-Union.

  • "In the final few days leading up to the filing deadline, tens of thousands of signatures from all over the state had to be immediately turned into the Board of Elections,” she said. “While the Zeldin for New York campaign is not aware of photocopies, we certainly didn't make any photocopies."
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