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Arnold withdraws from Senate primary while acknowledging affair

LOCKPORT – Gia M. Arnold announced the shutdown of her primary campaign for the State Senate as well as the breakup of her marriage in an overnight email to the media.

The 24-year-old from Holley in Orleans County announced in the email that she is stopping her campaign immediately because she had an extramarital affair this month.

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’s surprise decision added another twist to an unusual campaign in the 62nd Senate District, which covers all of Niagara and Orleans counties and two towns in Monroe County.

The 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 North Tonawanda Mayor Robert G. Ortt as a replacement candidate for Maziarz.

Now, Ortt has a clear path to a November faceoff 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.

However, Lora A. Allen, Democratic election commissioner in Niagara County, confirmed this morning that the GOP primary will be held, as it is too late for Arnold’s name to be removed from the ballot.

Ortt issued a brief statement saying, “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.”

Arnold had entered the race early this year when it appeared she would have to face Maziarz in a primary, emphasizing her dedication to gun ownership rights and opposition to Cuomo’s SAFE Act.

“It is with sincerest apologies that I must step away from actively campaigning this election cycle,” Arnold wrote in her email to the media. “I have appreciated all of the support, encouragement, and donations along the way and hope to continue the relationships that I have made further. I can only hope that district 62 will be led in Albany by a strong, Constitutional, and honest servant this coming year.”

She said she is canceling all campaign events, and the money in her campaign account - $3,186.14 as of her July 15 filing with the State Board of Elections - will 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.