The first major salvos in the crowded race for the 10th Senate District seat will be fired this week as the five contenders try to knock each other off the ballot.
Incumbent Sen. Ada Smith’s legal troubles, stemming from a March altercation with a staffer, brought out a bevy of challengers earlier this year, but the number of candidates will likely be reduced once the complicated system to get on the Democratic Party primary ballot is completed on July 27.
In addition to 18 year veteran Smith (D Jamaica), the field includes District 28 Community Education Council President Shirley Huntley, anti gun advocate Liz Bishop Goldsmith, Rochdale Village activist Joseph Marthone, and former City Councilman Allan Jennings Jr. Jereline Hunter is the designated Republican Party candidate. Smith has been endorsed by the Queens County Democratic Party.
Each candidate needs 1,000 signatures from registered party members in the district that stretches from Richmond Hill to St. Albans to get on the ballot for the Sept. 12 primary. Signature petitions were due at the Board of Elections by July 13, kicking off the political equivalent of a school yard dustup.
Candidates have six days to challenge the signatures on their opponents’ petitions. If a petition is challenged, the Board of Elections must determine by July 27 whether or not the signatures are valid. It is common for the majority of petitions to be challenged. There is no limit to the number of challenges that can be filed and any registered voter in the district can file a challenge.
“We’re going to look at all the candidates’ filed petitions. We have all the papers ready to challenge,” said Mark Bynoe, Huntley’s campaign manager.
Despite the possibility of disputes over signatures, the incumbent expressed confidence about making the primary ballot.
“Many thousands of individuals have signed petitions, which we are submitting this week, that qualify me as a candidate for re election as state Senator for the 10th Senatorial District,” Smith said. “As always, I am pleased by the broad base of support and enthusiasm I have received from every corner of my district.”
Huntley, who has perhaps the highest profile among Smith’s challengers, also expects to make it through the petition process. “I know that we’re doing well. If there was a crisis, I’m sure (my campaign team) would let me know,” she said.
Bynoe would not reveal the number of signatures the Huntley campaign has collected, but said it met expectations and was well above the required 1,000.
Tanya Cruz, the deputy campaign manager for Bishop Goldsmith, said her campaign planned to file 3,000 signatures by the 13th, with 2,000 collected as of late last week. Bishop Goldsmith, who was the first candidate to announce that she would challenge Smith, said her campaign is going well.
“I don’t have a lot of money, but I have faith. Mine is a positive and winning campaign,” said Bishop Goldsmith at a candidates’ forum hosted by the controversial Committee for Outsiders in Cambria Heights last Thursday. Bishop Goldsmith was the only contender from the 10th Senatorial race to attend.
Marthone and Jennings could not be reached for comment this week.