Primary '14

Klein outruns Koppell in petition competition


State Sen. Co-Majority Leader Jeff Klein called on the range of clubs and elected officials who have endorsed him across his wide district to help garner nearly twice as many petition signatures as his challenger, Riverdale’s former Councilman Oliver Koppell.

Mr. Klein’s campaign reported filing 9,000 petitions with the State Board of Election on Monday. Mr. Koppell’s campaign said it filed 5,009 petitions. The candidates needed 1,000 signatures from registered Democrats to get on the September primary ballot.

“This illustrates my support in every corner of the district,” Mr. Klein said in a statement. “It’s tremendously gratifying when 9,000 Democrats want you to be the standard bearer of the party.”

A Klein spokesperson said the senator gained about 2,300 petition signatures from the 81st assembly district covering Riverdale, thanks to efforts by volunteers from the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club. Earlier this year, the powerful group endorsed Mr. Klein over Mr. Koppell, a longtime leader of the club, at an emotionally charged meeting.

Mr. Koppell’s wife Lorraine Coyle Koppell, who has played an active role in the campaign, said the former councilman gained 3,110 petition signatures from the 81st assembly district.

“Obviously I’m better known in the western part of the district,” Mr. Koppell said. “The reception was uniformly pleasant and to tell you the truth, I thought it was welcoming.”

Mr. Koppell’s underdog campaign held a small sending-off ceremony for Ms. Koppell as she prepared to take a train to Albany to drop off four volumes of petitions on Monday morning.

“I know it sounds crazy, but you don’t want to risk an accident or a delay of any kind,” Ms. Koppell said. “So I’m taking the train, and hopefully there won’t be any accidents or delays of any kind.”

A Klein spokesperson said another staffer took his petitions to Albany, but there was no ceremony beforehand.

At the Ben Franklin Club’s headquarters on West 231st Street, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz continued a tradition of gathering with close supporters before delivering his own petitions to the city’s Board of Elections in Manhattan. Mr. Dinowitz is up for reelection to an 11th term and faces no known challengers.

For districts that cross county lines, such as Mr. Klein’s 34th state senate district, candidates have to file petitions in Albany, while for districts confined to one county, New York City candidates file in Manhattan.

Mr. Dinowitz said his campaign gathered 4,600 signatures supporting him and the club’s choices for Democratic Party officials such as leader for the 81st assembly district. The assemblyman said volunteers from the Ben Franklin Club also gathered nearly 600 signatures for Bronx state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, who is facing a primary challenge from Councilman Fernando Cabrera, in addition to helping Mr. Klein.

The assemblyman said between 125 and 135 people gathered signatures for him at all 101 election districts in his district. He added that after gathering many more signatures than he needed, his campaign stopped petitioning.

“We have a great number,” Mr. Dinowitz said. We could have gotten more, but I don’t want anybody to collapse.”

After Mr. Dinowitz bound his stack of petitions with tape, outgoing district leader and longtime Ben Franklin Club officer Bruce Feld reflected on some of the challenges of the petition gathering process.

He said volunteers have to take extra care to ascertain whether prospective petition signers are actually registered Democrats.

“When you see them on the streets and say, ‘Are you a Democrat?’ they say, ‘Of course, I’m a Democrat! I voted for Obama, I voted for Clinton.’ ‘So here, sign here.’” Mr. Feld said. “They sign, but their signature is invalid.”

State office candidates had until Thursday to submit their petitions. Recent weeks have seen a torrent of reports on who might run to represent the 31st state senate district — where Adriano Espaillat is seeking reelection after losing a primary challenge to Rep. Charles Rangel — and for the 71st assembly seat, which Gabriela Rosa vacated after pleading guilty to charges over having a previous fake marriage. Both districts include Marble Hill. The petition deadline is just one of many hurdles for candidates between now and the Sept. 9 primary vote.