Odd Turns Continue in Special Assembly Election in 43rd District

A week from Tuesday, voters will go to the polls to fill a vacant state Assembly seat in Brooklyn. That race, in Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens, has taken a number of odd turns, and they don't seem to be done yet. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

The 43rd district is, like all of Brooklyn, overwhelmingly Democratic. You won't be able to vote for a Democrat in the upcoming special Assembly election though. That is, unless an elusive perennial candidate wins a last-minute federal suit. 

Guillermo Philpotts wants to halt the May 5 special election unless he's on the ballot. Through a quirk, he snagged the Democratic nomination over the local party's preferred candidate. Now, he suggests Brooklyn Democrats got even by not filing a key document. He says the board is violating his First Amendment rights by not notifying him in time     

"Access to the ballot is a First Amendment right. Speaking out in campaigns is a First Amendment right," said Lawrence Mandelker, Philpotts' attorney.

However, Michael Ryan, the head of the Board of Elections, says Philpotts missed many chances to get himself on the ballot. 

"The Board of Elections does not dispense legal advice," Ryan said. "Persons seeking to be on the ballot for offices which they would make law have a duty and a responsibility to themselves and the citizens that they seek to represent to know what the rules are."

Who's telling the truth? Well, NY1 tried talking to Philpott,s but someone at his home said he was unavailable. He didn't return numerous calls. 

There are four candidates on the ballot in the race, but only one showed up on time to a forum on Monday. She was Working Families Party nominee Diana Richardson. 

"They should look for who's on the Working Families Party line because they can identify with working families," Richardson said.

Also in the race is Menachem Raitport of the Republican and Conservative lines, Shirley Patterson of the Independence Party and Geoffrey Davis of the Love Yourself line.

"We'll see how it plays out," said political analyst Michael Oliva. "It's going to be an interesting race."

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