GREAT NECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The battle for a Nassau County state assembly seat has moved from the bedroom to the voting booth.
A political novice has decided to try to unseat his estranged wife, who is a third-term state assemblywoman from Long Island.
There is now political shock reverberating on the streets of Great Neck in the battle of Schimel vs. Schimel.
The Democratic incumbent, Michelle Schimel, seemed less than enthusiastic to discuss her Republican opponent, who also happens to be her estranged husband, Mark.
As she tried to avoid CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan, someone could be heard on her cell phone barking instructions.
The following is the exchange between CBS 2’s McLogan and Michelle Schimel earlier Monday:
Schimel: “I have to take my son to the airport.”
McLogan: “We’re trying to find out what your reaction is to running against your husband.”
Schimel: “I’m not running against anyone. [My son’s] gonna miss his flight, please.”
Schimel: “I’m happy to speak to the press. I know the press wants to hear all about it. This is a private matter that you’re very interested about, but I do have family that has to get to the airport.”
Schimel: “My constituents will decide based on my record, and based on the issues that are really important. Not about a family matter.”
Assemblywoman Schimel, now in her third term, separated from her husband of 32 years, Mark Schimel, about a year ago. He was a Republican who changed his registration to Democrat when his wife ran for office, and now has switched back to the GOP.
Mark Schimel is a GOP Committeeman and works as a technology consultant. His backers said he has been very active in the Great Neck community for decades.
“He’s running because he thinks she’s out of step with the community. Obviously they’re out of step with each other. As long as they keep this thing on the up and up, as long as they start talking about issues and not what goes on in their lives, then it can be a genuine campaign,” said Frank Maroney, the GOP Chair for the Town of North Hempstead.
But opinions about the family politics ranged from disdain for Mark Schimel to support for his right to run.
“I really have no respect at all for the man, I’m sorry. To do something like this and bring politics into the bedroom, forget about it. Mr. Schimel, you don’t get my vote,” said Great Neck voter Jerry Sunshine.
“It’s freedom of speech, and they both have the same rights and [may] the best man win. I’m going to vote for her because I read 50 Shades Of Grey,” said Phyllis Jaslow.
CBS 2 has requested numerous interviews with candidate Mark Schimel. He has been unavailable.
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