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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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The Challengers’ Rough Road

When Nassau’s Democrats convene in May to nominate their official county executive and county comptroller candidates, neither Adam Haber nor Howard Weitzman are likely to hear their names called.

This will come as no surprise to either Haber, a Roslyn school board member who wants to be the Democrats’ county executive nominee, or Weitzman, a Great Neck resident who was the county comptroller between 2002 and 2009, and is again pursuing that elective office. Nassau’s Democrats appear poised to nominate Thomas Suozzi for county executive and county legislator Wayne Wink (D-Roslyn) for county comptroller, filling two of the top spots on their 2013 countywide ticket, which will also include district attorney Kathleen Rice as well as a county clerk nominee.

One of the most labor-intensive parts of any insurgent Nassau County campaign, such as those Haber and Weitzman are about to embark on separately, is gathering enough signatures to get the candidate’s name on the ballot. Their supporters will need to walk the county’s streets, going door-to-door in search of registered Democrats willing to sign a designating petition saying they believe Nassau County’s registered Democrats should have the opportunity to choose Haber and Weitzman as their party’s 2013 county executive and county comptroller nominees.  

The Haber and Weitzman campaigns’ petition gatherers must also knock on the right doors, and that’s why they’ll need to secure the county board of elections’ latest election district (ED) books. ED books are public documents listing the name of every registered voter in Nassau, where they live, and what political party they’re affiliated with, if any. At the moment, it looks as though the county’s primary election will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 10, although the state Legislature has not as yet made that date official.  

Suozzi, Wink, Rice and the county clerk nominee will have their designating petitions circulated by Nassau’s Democratic committee members, easily enabling each of them to get the 2,000 signatures they need, at a minimum, to have their names placed on September 2013’s primary ballot.

If the 2013 election timeline unfolds the way I’ve outlined here, the designating petitions will begin circulating in early June. Petition-gathers will then have the balance of that month, and a few days into July, to obtain the requisite number of signatures. Knowing Nassau’s Democratic Party leaders dislike primaries as much as the people who run Nassau’s GOP, the Haber and Weitzman campaign operatives will leave little to chance, trying to obtain 4,000-plus signatures for their candidates so as to make it harder for their rivals to invalidate the petitions via a court challenge.

Nassau is home to more than 1.3 million, so how hard can it be to find at least 2,000 registered Democrats to sign a designating petition? The undertaking is a daunting one, and may require the hiring of paid petition gatherers, because neither Haber nor Weitzman can tap Nassau’s best Democratic petition gatherers—the volunteers who do it every year in their roles as the party’s committee members.  Moreover, if a registered Democrat signs a petition on Suozzi’s behalf in mid-June, that person cannot turn around and sign one for Haber in late June. The same goes for the county comptroller race; a day after signing for Wink, a registered Democrat in Nassau is unable to help Weitzman force a primary by affixing their signature to the former comptroller’s petition.

Running for office is hard. Running for office when you’re not your party’s official nominee is even harder.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: