BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Updated Thurs., Sept. 14, 12 a.m..: Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council candidate Carlina Rivera coasted to victory in Tuesday night’s Democratic primary election.
Shockingly, though, after the polls had closed, two-term Councilmember Margaret Chin was only ahead by a razor-thin margin of 200 votes in Lower Manhattan’s District 1 versus young upstart Christopher Marte. Marte wasn’t ready to throw in the towel, saying on Wednesday morning that he is checking out “irregularities” at some polling sites.
The First District includes Battery Park City, Tribeca, the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Little Italy, Soho, Noho and Washington Square.
A political newcomer, Marte, 28, had never run for elected office until last year, when he campaigned for Democratic State Committeeman on the Lower East Side, losing to Lee Berman in a three-man race.
In unofficial Board of Election results, with 98.84 percent of the vote tallied, only a slim margin of 200 votes separates the two — 5,220 votes for Chin to 5,020 for Marte.
Chin apparently only avoided a devastating upset because of two other candidates, Dashia Imperiale and Aaron Foldenauer, who ultimately wound up as spoilers in this intensely watched race. Together, the pair took more than 10 percent of the vote, with Foldenauer raking in 699 votes to Imperiale’s 445.
“The two spoilers should be ashamed of themselves,” said Sean Sweeney, a leader of the Downtown Independent Democrats. D.I.D. endorsed Marte, as did other leading local clubs Village Independent Democrats and Village Reform Democratic Club.
There were also 20 write-in candidates.
On Wednesday morning, though, Marte said he’s not conceding.
“We want to make sure every vote is counted,” he said. “We want to look into some of the irregularities at a few voting sites. We have to meet with our poll watchers.”
In a statement later on Wednesday, Marte added, “We spoke to our lawyer and advisers and the election will not be officially called until next week as we wait for absentee ballots to arrive and be counted. These will be added to the absentee and affidavit ballots already received, and then we will have the final and certified results. We cannot ask for a recount until the election is certified.”
Most Democrats, though, clearly were unhappy with how Chin has been leading the District 1 as seen by the fact that she only got 46 percent of the vote — not even a simple majority.
According to political consultant Jerry Skurnik of Prime New York, his “ethnic estimate” of registered Democrats in District 1 finds about 23 percent are Asian-American. The company estimates voters’ ethnicity based on their last names.
“It’s not 100 accurate,” Skurnik admitted. “Whoopi Goldberg will be listed as Jewish and Spike Lee as Asian in our counts.”
Meanwhile, in City Council District 2, including the East Village, part of the Lower East Side, Union Square, Gramercy and Kips Bay, Rivera ran roughshod. She was backed by a bevy of local politicians, including her mentor, current Councilmember Rosie Mendez, and Mendez and Rivera’s home political organization, Coalition for a District Alternative. With 96.5 percent of the ballots tallied, Rivera had collected 61 percent of the total — or 8,140 votes.
Of the other candidates in the District 2 field, education advocate Mary Silver came in second, with 16.5 percent of the vote (2,198 votes); Obama administration veteran Ronnie Cho (1,139 votes) and attorney Jorge Vasquez (1,016 votes) each got around 8 percent; and Jasmin Sanchez (614 votes) got nearly 5 percent. Erin Hussein, despite dropping out of the race a few weeks ago, was still on the ballot, and 249 people blackened the oval for her, or just shy of 2 percent of the voters. There were 35 write-in candidates.
Turnout was higher in District 2 than District 1, with about 2,000 more voters casting ballots in the former than the latter, or around 13,400 to 11,400.
Prime New York’s Skurnik said his company’s “ethnic estimate” of registered Democrats in District 2 finds that about 24 percent are Hispanic.
In a major upset — and a crushing blow to former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s Truman Democratic Club — Lee Berman and Caroline Laskow, two public-school parents, toppled incumbent District Leaders Jacob Goldman and Karen Blatt in the 65th Assembly District, Part A. Berman got 57 percent of the vote to 42 percent for Goldman, or 1,234 votes to 906, while Laskow won by 52 percent to Blatt’s 47 percent.
Goldman took over the spot of longtime District Leader David Weinberger, who died last October. Berman and Laskow are founding members of a new reform political club, Grand Street Democrats.
“We’re L.G.B.T. friendly,” Berman said in an interview with The Villager last week. “This is one of the things that sets up apart. We comply with the law — we do not have any members who have admitted to [crimes],” he said, referring to William Rapfogel, former C.E.O. of Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, who pled guilty to receiving millions of dollars in kickbacks — or, as Berman put it, “stealing $9 million from the elderly.”
Silver’s Truman club also played a pivotal role in supporting Alice Cancel to replace Silver in a special election last year, Berman noted, calling her “the worst candidate.”
Truman members did not even deign to put up a poster for Hillary Clinton in their clubhouse’s window in the presidential election, Berman and Laskow observed, disapprovingly.
Berman and Laskow’s Grand Street Democrats running mates also won 16 out of 22 Democratic County Committee seats.
“These victories give this new political organization immediate relevance in the selection of a new state Senator, following Daniel Squadron’s abrupt resignation,” a press release after election night declared.
“Trump’s win last year was a call to action for anyone with a political ethical conscience,” Laskow said after the win. “The Truman Club’s silence in the face of Trump’s campaign and administration signaled not only their apathy but complicity. Our community deserves better, and voters today made clear they are looking for new local leadership ready to organize resistance to Trump’s radical agenda.”
Added Berman, “Locally, this is big news. Silver and his allies have acted as gatekeepers to local officials for decades. We are determined to celebrate the diversity of our neighborhood and make sure that everyone has equal access to their elected officials, from City Hall to Albany to Washington D.C.”
As opposed to the Truman Club, which the winners accused of being closed and unwelcoming, Grand Street Democrats plans to hold regular open meetings, neighborhood events and forums with elected officials for the entire community. Laskow also noted that Truman didn’t have any online or social-media presence at all prior to the Grand Street Dems’ emergence.
With 98 percent of the vote tallied, de Blasio had garnered 74 percent of the citywide turnout (or 326,361 votes), with former Brooklyn Councilmember Sal Albanese coming in second at 15 percent (about 66,636 votes). Neither of the other two challengers, Upper West Side police-and-prisons reform candidate Bob Gangi and tech guru Michael Tolkin, got more than 5 percent of the vote.
Albanese will still be running in the November general election, however, after besting an opponent to win a third-party nomination — that of the Reform Party.
“While we did not win the Democratic primary last night, we did beat back a concerted and well-funded effort by Republican and other party bosses to take the Reform Party nomination away from me, the legitimate Reform Party candidate,” Albanese said. “Those efforts failed and we were victorious.
“We will be running a strong reform campaign between now and election day,” he said. “I am convinced, after talking to voters across the five boroughs, that people are tired of politics as usual, are tired of the effect of big money on politics and are voting with their feet — they are running away from the voting booth. The poor showing at the polls — fewer than 450,000 voters turned out — is proof of that. The results are not a mandate; they show us that a small core of political clubs and machine hacks can actually hijack elections and get the results they want. Our democracy is in deep, deep trouble.”