A lawsuit filed by Michele Adolphe, a candidate running for the 42nd Assembly District (which covers Ditmas Park, Flatbush, and Midwood), to remove Rodneyse Bichotte, a challenger endorsed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, from the ballot for next Tuesday’s primary, was dismissed today by the judge overseeing the case.
Adolphe’s lawsuit cited allegations of “widespread voter registration improprieties, highly questionable voter registration filings, and/or deceit.” She also charged in the lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court on August 29 that Bichotte did not submit a voter registration application when she moved back to New York after living in Illinois.
“I am exceedingly pleased to learn that the lawsuit filed against our campaign has been dismissed,” Bichotte said in a statement sent to the press. “The case was baseless and had no merit in a court of law. This was simply a desperate and last minute attempt by Michele Adolphe and her campaign to distract voters from the real issues they’re faced with in this election, and with today’s court ruling those efforts have failed.”
“Justice (David) Schmidt of State Supreme Court of New York clearly believed that this was a frivolous lawsuit,” Aaron Maslow, Bichotte’s attorney, said in the same statement. “He gave four reasons for dismissing it. Besides the fact that Michele Adolphe and her attorney failed to follow proper legal procedures, the judge emphasized that Rodneyse Bichotte properly registered to vote when she moved years ago to New York.”
Adolphe said in an interview with Ditmas Park Corner this evening that while she accepts the judge’s decision, she is not pleased.
“The judge is scared to touch it,” she said. “You have somebody running for office who’s not registered in the state of New York. Can the Board of Elections produce a voter registration? No.”
The Board of Elections did not respond to requests for comment.
Adolphe, the founder of the Brooklyn Institute for Children, and Bichotte, a Democratic district leader, are two of four Democrats vying to replace Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs, who is retiring after more than 36 years in Albany. The other two candidates facing off in the September 9 primary are Victor Jordan and L. Rickie Tulloch, who has been backed by Jacobs. Mark Lieberman, previously a candidate, was kicked off the ballot after his petition signatures were challenged last month. At that time, Lieberman said in an interview with Ditmas Park Corner that Bichotte of needlessly pushing him out of the tightly-packed race because he was “the only one who could stand up to her in terms of issues.”
“Rodneyse challenged my petitions aggressively,” Lieberman said in an interview with us. “I got into the race late, and by the time we were able to verify all of our signatures, there was not time to challenge her.”
In response, a campaign spokesman for Bichotte said last month that, “we have always welcomed greater participation in the race for the 42nd Assembly District by eligible candidates. Any ruling that removes a candidate from the ballot based on the legitimacy of signatures is an issue to take up with the [state]Board of Elections.”
The four candidates left in the race faced off last week in a sometimes contentious debate, during which Adolphe and Bichotte often traded barbs.
Bichotte has racked up a number of high profile endorsements for her campaign, including from de Blasio, city Comptroller Scott Stringer, U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, and city Public Advocate Letitia James, among others.
“I’ve had the privilege of watching Rodneyse Bichotte grow into a great leader and organizer in her time in public service,” de Blasio said in a statement issued by Bichotte’s campaign last month. “The people of the 42nd Assembly District and the New York Legislature really could not be in better hands.”
Adolphe has not received any official endorsements.
“I don’t need these endorsements,” she said in the interview this evening. “The people in my district believe in my leadership.”
Tulloch, meanwhile, has received the backing of Jacobs – and Yaakov Schapiro, a Jewish community liaison to Jacobs and a community adviser to Tulloch, sent out a statement to the media today railing against the Jewish Press’ decision to endorse Bichotte.
“I am appalled to see that the Jewish Press has issued an endorsement to a candidate without even reaching out or interviewing the candidate’s opponent, who by the way has been endorsed by the elected official still sitting on that seat,” Schapiro wrote in an email.
“I don’t understand how they can even do something like that, which is so unfair to their readers and the Jewish community,” he continued. “Shame on you Jewish Press for doing a move like that and delivering a smack in the face to Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs, who has represented and has been a constant advocate for the Jewish community for almost 36 years.”
We’ve reached out for a response from the Jewish Press.
Photos via Brooklyn Independent Media.