Democrats on Wednesday made a last-minute candidate switch in the special election for the Ninth District Assembly seat, choosing Christine Pellegrino, a local teacher and leader in the Opt Out movement that opposes Common Core testing in public schools.
But Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer said he would take no part in the nomination or the campaign because of a probe of State Senate Democrats’ fundraising practices. Local political sources say Schaffer is a witness in a probe into an alleged attempt in 2014 by the teachers’ union to make a backdoor $100,000 donation to a senate candidate.
Pellegrino emerged as the candidate Ninth District after she and Ben Lavender, a CSEA Local 1000 organizer, were interviewed by the Working Families Party Monday night. The minor party urged Democrats to make a switch and Lavender declined the nomination, which already was filed in Albany.
Republicans on Tuesday named Conservative Tom Gargiulo, a retired BOCES teacher and Wyandanch girls’ basketball coach, to run in the May 23 special election.