On Tuesday, voters of the 133rd District in the New York Republican primary cast their ballot for upstate Assemblyman Bill Nojay, despite the fact that the lawmaker took his own life last week. The man’s name still appeared on the ballot, and he defeated his opponent from beyond the grave.
The FBI had been investigating 59-year-old Bill Nojay, and he was about to be put on trial for fraud in Cambodia when he committed suicide at the grave of his brother in Rochester cemetery on Friday instead of turning himself in to the authorities. Nonetheless, the embattled Republican defeated his GOP rival Richard Milne, the mayor of Honeoye Falls, with double digit numbers after unofficial results show him receiving 2,387 votes (59 percent of the total votes) compared to Milne’s 1,660 (41 percent).
Late Assemblyman Bill Nojay is the winner of the Republican primary for the 133rd State Assembly District pic.twitter.com/RMGuDQO9SE— News 8 - WROC-TV (@News_8) September 14, 2016
Richard Milne is calling foul, though, stating that in the days leading up to the voting for the New York primaries, the district Republicans sent out a barrage of robocalls urging constituents to still vote for his opponent, even though it was well known that he had committed suicide.
“They really did some things in the past few days that were in poor taste in my opinion to sway the vote.”
While the situation that the New York Republican party now faces is very unusual, it is not the first time that the American people have cast their votes for a candidate posthumously.
Local GOP leaders must now choose a replacement for Nojay on the November ballot for the general election. New York’s 133rd district is comprised of Monroe, Steuben, and Livingston counties, and the chairman has 10 days from the date of Bill Nojay’s death to choose his successor. That person will then go up against Democrat Barbara Baer, a lawyer and social worker who ran unopposed in her areas during the general election.
In 2001, Jean Carnahan received the appointment to the U.S. Senate after her husband, Mel Carnahan, who had been the senate candidate and former Missouri governor, was killed in a plane crash. Milne is hoping that the party leaders will now choose him to go up against Baer for the conservative district of suburban Rochester and the Finger Lakes area. The Webster Post wrote that over the weekend, Richard Milne sent a letter to the party chairs asking to be chosen, though other Republicans have also received tentative calls about being considered.
The chairman of the Livingston County Republican Party, Lowell Conrad, told the media that he hopes the person the Republican Party chooses to take Nojay’s place is “as close to him as possible, philosophically.”
Bill Nojay was the host of a conservative radio program and gun advocate who had been elected in 2012 and was also an ardent supporter of Donald Trump and his bid for the presidency. Nojay had encouraged Trump to run for New York governor and later was the co-chairman of Donald Trump’s New York campaign committee.
The FBI investigation into the Republican had seen him and three others accused of fraud charges for swindling $1 million investment from a wealthy Cambodian dentist who said she had invested in a rice exporting company that never came to fruition. The assemblyman adamantly denied those allegations. However, the New York Daily News says the FBI was expecting his surrender on Friday because Nojay also stands accused of additional fraud charges in the states too. One was related to a school modernization program that was worth $1.3 billion, while another separate case was regarding a $1.8 million trust fund that he was to have been managing for a long-time client and friend.
While his legal issues would certainly have swayed voters if he had continued in the race, his fitness for office is no longer relevant due to his suicide.
The suicide of the Republican is said to have been witnessed by a policeman who had been sent to check on his welfare at his family’s cemetery plot. His lawyer made the call to the police after Nojay had told him where he was and that he intended to kill himself. The funeral for the republican is scheduled for this Friday.
[Photo by Mike Groll/AP Images]