New Paltz Town Supervisor Susan Zimet announced on Monday that she has given up her Democratic primary challenge to Assemblyman Kevin Cahill after the New York State Board of Elections (BOE) rejected about a quarter of the signatures she had submitted on nominating petitions.
Zimet fell just 35 signatures short of the minimum of 500 valid signatures from members of the Democratic Party. Of the 640 signatures she submitted, 175 were rejected.
Cahill submitted more than 1,700 signatures, but was not challenged.
Zimet, who had retained Saugerties elections specialist Lanny Walter, could have contested the BOE’s finding in state Supreme Court, but said it would have cost “thousands and thousands of dollars” with no certain outcome.
Recent campaign filings showed Cahill, a nine-term incumbent, with more than $112,000 on hand, compared to Zimet’s $1,600.
Zimet accused Cahill of attempting to deprive Democrats of a choice by challenging her petitions. Cahill denied it, claiming it was his supporters who challenged Zimet.
“We all know the political system is already stacked against the challenger,” said Zimet. “Cahill’s actions to keep me off the ballot makes one wonder why he is so scared of letting the voters have the opportunity to cast their vote.”
Cahill, who was overwhelmingly endorsed by Democrats at the convention in June, called for party unity in the wake of Zimet’s departure. Zimet said she would continue to speak out on state-related issues.
Cahill will face Kevin Roberts, a county legislator from Wallkill, on the Republican and Conservative lines.
Cahill carries the Working Families Party banner, but was successfully challenged for the Independence Party line. Indy chairman Len Bernardo said that since the deadline for opportunity to ballot has passed, there will be no party endorsement for Assembly this year.
The 103rd Assembly District covers most of Ulster County, including the towns of New Paltz, Woodstock, Rosendale, Ulster and Esopus and the City of Kingston, in addition to the towns of Red Hook and Rhinebeck.