NY DAILY NEWS — 08/15/2014
by Dennis Slattery
A former operative for President Obama expects to find out Friday whether he will be able to get his name on the ballot in the Bronx.
Bronx Supreme Court Judge John Carter is expected to rule Friday whether state Assembly candidate Michael Blake should remain on the ballot for the 79th Assembly district.
The question of whether Blake, a Democrat who spent much of the last decade working in Chicago and Washington, is really a Bronx resident has been a point of contention since April, when the 32-year-old announced he was running for the seat.
I have great respect for Michael Blake’s talents and accomplishments.
The post has been vacant since January, when former Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was convicted on bribery charges.
If he does remain on the ballot for the Sept. 9 Democratic primary, Blake will face a crowded field of opponents including Bronx County Democratic party-backed lawyer Marsha Michaels, comedian Fred Rick, activist George Alvarez, Raul Rodriguez, and Lanita Jones. The district includes parts of Morrisania, Concourse Village, and Tremont.
JEFFERSON SIEGEL/NEW YORK DAILY NEWSFormer Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, 47, was sentenced to three years in prison after he was found guilty of taking $20,000 in bribes in January. His seat in Albany has been empty since the conviction.
Former assemblyman and political commentator Michael Benjamin, who represented the area prior to Stevenson, has been openly critical of Blake’s residency even as he acknowledged the candidate’s rising stature on the national political scene.
“I have great respect for Michael Blake’s talents and accomplishments,” Benjamin said. “I believe he needed to be better immersed in the district he now wishes to represent after a decade of making a good life elsewhere.
I believe he needed to be better immersed in the district he now wishes to represent after a decade of making a good life elsewhere.
“If Mr. Blake makes the ballot, as it appears he will, voters will have to consider the convenience of his prodigal return.”
Blake has claimed residency at his mother’s home on Decatur Ave., but the 2009 to 2012 tax forms he submitted as proof had been amended this year to declare his status as a part-time resident of New York.
SMITH, BRYAN, FREELANCE NYDNDespite praising Michael Blake for his talents, former Bronx Assemblyman Michael Benjamin has been critical of Blake’s campaign due to residency issues.
He chalked up the revisions — which saddled him with thousands of dollars in tax penalties — to an error on the part of his accountant.
The former White House aide has also raised eyebrows by building up a campaign warchest of almost $200,000, an unheard of number in local state races in the Bronx.
A court referee recommended Wednesday that Blake’s name remain on the ballot, all but assuring that the challenge from the Bronx Democratic County Committee would not stand.
“We are very confident that the judge will agree with this ruling and that Blake will both be on the ballot and will be elected the next Assemblyman of this district,” Blake campaign manager Aaron Carr said in a statement.
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