He Says Media Coverage, Desire To Avoid 'Collateral Damage' Prompted Decision

GREAT NECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Friends of Mark and Michelle Schimel may have had to pick sides when the couple separated last year, but they won’t have to choose between them at the polls in November.

The battle for a Nassau County state assembly seat moved from the bedroom to the voting booth when Republican candidate Mark Schimel decided to try to unseat his estranged wife. On Tuesday, he had a change of heart, announcing he was withdrawing from the race.

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“It’s a tough decision to make, but I feel that it’s in the best interest of my family at this point,” Mark Schimel told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

Mark Schimel cited media coverage, which he said made it impossible to debate the issues.

“It is clear to me that any effort to have an honest debate about lowering property taxes, improving our economy and making elected officials more responsive to taxpayers will be impossible given the media’s proclivity for sensationalizing the news,” Schimel wrote in a letter to Frank Moroney, the GOP Chair for the Town of North Hempstead.

However, Mark Schimel did admit he knew the odd matchup would be high profile.

“If I was running against somebody who was not related to me in some way, you wouldn’t be here,” he told CBS 2’s Gusoff. “It gave us a platform to bring things to the forefront that we couldn’t have done otherwise, but I think there is some collateral damage that I want to avoid.”

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News of the withdrawal had folks breaking bread in Great Neck and breaking ranks with GOP leaders on their pick. Democratic leaders also said they were relieved the political version of War of the Roses ended in ceasefire.

“To pick an estranged husband who is divorcing a wife is not only inappropriate,  it’s insulting,” said
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman.

Democratic incumbent Michelle Schimel 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.

He recently switched back, getting the GOP nod to challenge the three-term assemblywoman last Thursday.

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