In a scene right out of Hollywood, a husband estranged from his wife is seeking to take her political seat away by running against her. Michelle Schimel, a state assemblymen from Great Neck, N.Y., is being challenged by her husband, Mark Schimel. Even Mark Schimel’s own mother finds the move incomprehensible. Irma Schimel, informed of her son’s plans, said, “You’re joking. This is a really startling thing. It’s a shock. Why would he do this? I love her very much. I can’t believe he’d do a thing like this. I’m going to talk to him.”
After being married 32 years, with two children, the couple separated last year. They are not legally divorced.
Michelle Schimel, who is 54, is in her third term. Originally a physical therapist and certified wound care specialist at North Shore University Hospital, she moved on to be vice president of a fashion accessories firm in Manhattan and then Town Clerk of North Hempstead.
Mark Schimel, who works as an information technology consultant, serves on the Great Neck Architectural Review Committee. Originally a Republican, he changed his registration to Democrat when his wife ran for office, then changed back earlier this year.
Irma Schimel is convinced her daughter-in-law will win against her own son, “He’ll never win anything against Michelle. They (the voters) love her.”
Although the campaign looks like it could get personally nasty, both sides claim that it won’t. Michelle Schimel said she will run “on the issues and on my record” while Frank Moroney, the local GOP chairman, asserted that GOP leaders urged him several times to keep the campaign away from vitriol. “One of the things we made clear is we want this to be a very dignified, issue-oriented campaign,” Moroney said. “If he wants our continued support he is going to have to keep it that way.”
Although Michelle Schimel eschews getting personal, her local Democratic Party isn’t so sanguine: one source accused Mark Schimel and the local GOP of “lowering themselves to any level . . . and allowing people’s personal issues to become part of political mudslinging.”