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Arnold halts her Senate bid amid breakup of marriage

LOCKPORT – Gia M. Arnold said Wednesday that she was halting her Republican campaign for state senator in the 62nd District because of the breakup of her marriage, but by the end of the day, she was wavering in that position.

“At this moment in time, I have to concentrate on my children,” the 24-year-old mother of three said Wednesday evening. “It’s for my children, the reason I’m backing down.”

But Arnold said that several supporters urged her to stay in the race. Her name will remain on the Sept. 9 Republican primary ballot, since the state Board of Elections said it’s legally too late to remove it.

“Never say never,” Arnold said when asked if she might resume her campaign. “There’s a possibility in a couple of weeks I might decide to jump back into the ring. I’m still in the ring, I’m just not campaigning.”

But for the time being, Arnold is concentrating on personal matters.

Arnold said Wednesday morning that she slept with a close friend Aug. 1 and left her husband of five years and their home in Holley on Aug. 5.

After a few nomadic days in hotels and staying with friends, Arnold said, she and her children, ages 5, 3 and 2, have moved into an apartment in Lockport.

In an interview earlier in the day, Arnold said she felt compelled to go public.

“I am an honest and open person. I don’t like lying,” she told The Buffalo News in a telephone interview. “My campaign was built on openness and transparency.”

After thinking about it for a week, Arnold sent out an email to the area media at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, announcing the end of her campaign.

“I can’t continue to campaign while I’m dealing with all these issues,” Arnold said.

She said her marriage already had been falling apart, even though she said the time she was spending on her campaign might have contributed to its downfall.

She wrote in the email, “I have made personal decisions that have ultimately resulted in the necessity of my stepping down from the campaign. I participated in an extramarital affair beginning in August of this year. It was an excuse for an escape from an already declining marriage. I cannot regret the decisions I have made, but I can admit to being happier presently than before. It is for my ex-husband, my children, my family and friends that I must publicly admit to my actions as I believe honesty and integrity are of utmost importance in life.”

Arnold said she talked to a few people about her decision, and received some advice to stay in the race.

“I’ve been receiving some feedback and support, but I also know that I let a lot of people down,” she told The News.

Arnold said she would campaign this fall if she managed to win the GOP primary, but she announced in her email that she is canceling all campaign events.

Her opponent, North Tonawanda Mayor Robert G. Ortt, issued a statement that said, “Anyone who has ever been involved in politics knows the importance of putting family first. I respect Ms. Arnold’s decision to focus on her family at this time and wish them all the best. I remain committed to the task of earning the support of the people of the 62nd Senate District in hopes of serving as their representative in Albany.”

The district covers all of Niagara and Orleans counties and two towns in Monroe County.

The Senate seat is held by 19-year incumbent George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, who filed nominating petitions and then quit the race last month.

Members of his staff have been subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, which is investigating allegations of improper use of campaign funds, material left over from the work of the Moreland Commission, which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo shut down in March.

The Republican organization endorsed Ortt as a replacement candidate for Maziarz.

The winner of the Republican primary will be on the November ballot against the Democratic nominee, Niagara Falls Board of Education member Johnny G. Destino, an attorney who switched parties after losing the Republican primary to Maziarz in 2012.

In her email, Arnold said the money in her campaign account – $3,186.14 as of her July 15 filing with the state Board of Elections – would be donated to a charity to be chosen by a majority vote of visitors to her Facebook page.

“I hope that all I have disappointed will understand that I am only human and imperfect,” Arnold wrote in the email.

Arnold said she probably will build a relationship with the man she slept with at the start of the month. “Once again,” she said, “time will tell with that.”