Republican Council Candidate Claims Rival Aide Is Holding His Petitions Hostage


A Republican City Council candidate in Brooklyn said he may not get on the ballot because a Republican operative working for a Democrat in the race isn’t handing over his petitions in time for the midnight deadline tonight.

The Republican candidate, George Smith, is running for Bill de Blasio’s seat in Brooklyn, and said operative Gerry O’Brien hasn’t turned over signatures he needs.

“He’s trying to knock me off the ballot,” said Smith. “He told everyone he’d return them on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday. Then at 9 a.m. this morning. We know what he’s doing.”

O’Brien, who is working for Democratic candidate Josh Skaller, denied the charge.

“I don’t have anything. My wife has 50 signatures,” he said in a brief telephone interview. O’Brien said his wife is running for county committee and is among the candidates on the petitions.

O’Brien said his wife picked up the signatures on Monday and did not return them to party leaders because of fears that another Republican district leader who is critical of Michael Bloomberg will not hand them in.

O’Brien said his wife planned to hand in the petitions tonight to the Kings County Republican Law Chairman, Ted Latsas.

I asked if handing the petitions into Latsas tonight, just hours before the deadline, wasn’t cutting it a bit close, and therefore validating Smith’s concerns. O’Brien said no. And, he said, “There are people in other districts who are still planning to circulate petitions until 9 p.m. tonight before handing them in.”

O’Brien said he did not expect Smith to get more than 15 percent of the vote in the general election, since the district is so heavily Democratic. When asked if he’s trying to keep Smith, the Council candidate, off the ballot, O’Brien said he wasn’t, and, “I can care less.”

I’ll be at the Board of Elections office tonight to watch the scene as the midnight deadline for handing in petitions comes and goes.

Republican Council Candidate Claims Rival Aide Is Holding His Petitions Hostage