By Connor Beach
Supporters of veteran New York State Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R-Northport) have filed a suit in the State Supreme Court challenging the residency of first time Democratic challenger Michael Marcantonio.
The lawsuit filed by three of Raia’s supporters, including Ralph Notaristerano, argues that Marcantonio does not meet the New York State residency requirements to challenge Raia for the 12th assembly district seat.
State law requires that a candidate be a resident of the state for five years and a resident of the assembly district for 12 months immediately preceding the election.
Marcantonio, 31, an attorney with Manhattan-based Kirkland & Ellis, called Raia’s challenge “total nonsense,” adding that the suit was filed after financial filings showed that Marcantonio had raised $107,000 for his campaign, nearly double that of Raia.
“Andrew Raia has never had a serious opponent in his entire career,” Marcantonio said. “Now he’s suing us to kick us off the ballot.”
Raia, who was first elected to represent the 12th district in 2002, ran unopposed for reelection in 2014 and defeated Democratic challenger Spencer Rumsey by 17,778 votes in 2016.
Raia contends that Marcantonio does not meet the one-year district residency requirement because he has signed leases and lived in two separate apartments in New York City while working for Kirkland & Ellis.
Raia also argued that Marcantonio fails to meet the five-year state requirement because he resided in Durham, North Carolina while attending law school at Duke University, from which he graduated in 2015.
“He registered to vote in North Carolina and registered his car in North Carolina… that makes you a North Carolina resident, particularly under the eyes of the law in New York State,” Raia said.
Marcantonio said, although he does lease an apartment in New York City where he sometimes stays after working long hours, he maintains his primary residence in Northport.
“My driver’s license is at home in Northport, my taxes were filed out of Northport, my bills go to Northport,” Marcantonio said. “I spend a significant amount of time there, and it is my only home.”
Marcantonio said that even while attending Duke Law School he continued to live in Northport for half the year. He said he decided to register to vote in North Carolina in an effort of fight “Republican voter suppression tactics” in the region.
If the courts allow Marcantonio to run, both candidates agreed the LIPA tax certiorari case surrounding the Northport Power Plant property is one of the major issues facing the Northport and East Northport communities.
Marcantonio said he is “fine” with the Town of Huntington and the Northport-East Northport School district entering into non-binding mediation with LIPA and National Grid, but is “completely against any settlement on this issue.”
He criticized Raia’s leadership on the LIPA issue, and argued that the district needs an assemblyman in the Democratic majority who can influence legislation.
Raia said he signed on to co-sponsor legislation by Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) that would spread out any tax reductions for LIPA over 15 years and “set up a reserve fund to soften the blow.”
In addition to the LIPA case, Marcantonio cited state corruption, the need for better sewer systems in Suffolk County and declining air quality as important issues facing the district.
Raia said addressing the “heroin pandemic” in Suffolk County was at the top of his list, along with fighting MS-13.