Michelle Schimel, a Democrat, has had a seat in the 16th Assembly in Long Island for four terms, so she’s accustomed to facing challengers. But this time around, she’ll have one she knows pretty well: her estranged husband, Mark, who’s running against her.

The two separated last year after 32 years of marriage, but Frank Moroney, chairman of the North Hempstead Republican Committee, said Mark assured the group he didn’t get in the race just to hurt his wife.

“We want an issue oriented campaign,” Moroney said. “He made that commitment, and we moved forward. He kept reassuring us that it was all about business.”

But Scott Levinson, one of Michelle’s campaign consultants, feels otherwise. “The Republican party is clearly trying to manipulate this for their own political campaign,” he said. “The assembly woman is eager to return civility to her campaign and local politics, so she’s going to remain committed.”

Even Mark’s mother was surprised by his candidacy. “You’re joking,” Irma Schimel said when told about it. “This is a really startling thing. It’s a shock. Why would he do this?”

[ABC News]