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Pastor Connis Mobley Disqualified From Running in Democratic Primary, plans to run on School Choice line

Conservative activist helps keep pastor on the ballot

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A cup of Tea really can perk you up.

Pastor Connis Mobley of the United Community Baptist Church was booted off the Democratic primary ballot in the race to fill the seat of term-limited Councilman Domenic Recchia (D–Coney Island) due to irregularities in his petition filing — but the candidate is continuing his campaign with some help from former Brooklyn Tea Party president Joseph Hayon.

To compete in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary, Mobley needed 450 signatures from registered Democrats in the district spanning Coney Island, Seagate, Gravesend, and Bensonhurst. The city Board of Elections said the pastor of the church at the corner of W. 27th Street and Mermaid Avenue submitted 766 — but it ruled that 425 of them were invalid. The agency suggested that Mobley’s team had collected signatures from people either not registered to vote, not registered as Democrats, or not registered in the district. The 341 remaining signatures left Mobley well short of qualifying to run for the Democratic line.

The minister acknowledged that some of those who collected signatures for him — mostly members of his congregation — had made mistakes in their eagerness to get him on the ballot.

“We understand that some of our petitioners did not follow the rules, we know that, but they were just doing their best to get signatures,” Mobley said.

But the aspiring politician said the blow to his campaign left him hungrier than ever to capture the seat — and spread his message of black community empowerment.

“I’m not giving in, I’m not giving up. I still want to run. This has just added fuel to the fire,” said Mobley. “In America, everyone has a right to run and discuss the issues.”

So the campaign turned to Hayon, an old friend and early donor. The one-time Republican challenger of Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz (D–Sheepshead Bay) recommended that the preacher collect another 450 voter signatures before Aug. 20 to run as an independent candidate in the general election in November — and even agreed to let Mobley run on his School Choice Party line.

Hayon said he met with Mobley early in the campaign, and said the minister’s religious convictions and community ties appealed to him.

“I work with anybody regardless what they’re labeled as — as long as I believe that they will do what the people need, not what politicians need,” said Hayon. “He’s a pastor, and that means he wants to help people. That’s why he’s a pastor.”

And, even though Mobley is a registered Democrat, both his campaign manager and campaign spokesperson are Republicans — and argued that the pastor’s values and stand on social issues tilt rightward.

“Part of what we believe in is teaching people to be self-sufficient, not to rely on government programs, and that is conservati­ve,” said spokeswoman Dana Monroe.

But while Hayon said he was happy to help Mobley get on the ballot, the conservative activist won’t be giving him his vote in November. The registered Republican said he decided to support Republican candidate Andy Sullivan after the fellow Tea Partier jumped into the race in May.

And Mobley’s campaign still faces another handicap — weak fundraising. As of the last campaign fiannce reporting deadline last month, the preacher has less than $670 in his campaign warchest, the smallest amount of any of the four Democratic contenders. The next-lowest total belongs to Assemblyman Bill Colton (D–Bensonhurst) aide Mark Treyger, who has more than $25,000 in the bank. Activist Todd Dobrin has almost $41,000 in his coffers, and former Council Speaker Christine Quinn staffer John Lisyanskiy has roughly $44,000.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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