Democratic New York City Councilman Lew Fidler declared victory tonight in his Senate special election, even though New York City Board of Elections figures showed him losing at the moment to Republican David Storobin by 120 votes.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the Board of Elections had 10,756 votes for Storobin and 10,636 for Fidler. At least 700 paper ballots have to yet to be counted, buoying the campaign’s hopes that a victory is still possible.
Kalman Yeger, Fidler’s campaign manager, insisted that Fidler will emerge with a narrow win.
“I’m not losing any sleep when I put my head down on the pillow tonight,” Yeger said, adding that he was confident the counting of paper ballots would break largely in Fidler’s favor. That process is not excepted to begin for a week.
Yet at his own victory party, Storobin also declared victory. Predictably, in a race where the two sides have almost never agreed, Storobin campaign spokesman David Simpson said the outstanding votes are to the Republican’s advantage.
“We had a great absentee program,” Simpson said. “And we believe we will gain votes on the machine recount given irregularities we know about today. David Storobin is going win this election.”
Despite the odd circumstances, Fidler delivered a full-throated victory speech thanking a packed room full of supporters at a Jewish community center. In the company of three mayoral candidates, Bill Thompson, Bill de Blasio and Christine Quinn, Fidler singled out his supporters in the Orthodox Jewish community for withstanding a “barrage” of negative press about him in the Jewish media, and an onslaught of negative Senate Republican-sponsored campaign mailers.
“To my friends in the Orthodox Jewish community, the barrage that you withstood, all of you,” Fidler said. “All of you stood up in a way that is really very heartwarming to me.”
Fidler also thanked the Russian community, in particular Gregory Davidzon, the Russian media mogul whose radio broadcasts strongly backed Fidler and repeatedly blasted Strobin, who is Russian-American.
“You had to go and explain to folks why I didn’t have to speak their language,” Fidler noted.
Fidler had been strongly favored to win, and the close result creates pitfalls for both Democrats and Republicans.
Even if Fidler ends up pulling out the race, the razor-thin margin still would not bode well for Senate Democrats. That’s because if Fidler runs in the newly drawn so-called “Super-Jewish” district, he’ll face another barrage of negative criticism — and this time will likely be running against a candidate who is Orthodox Jewish, in a more heavily Orthodox district.
Or, Fidler could choose to run against State Sen. Marty Golden, an entrenched Republican incumbent whose district covers a lot of population Fidler has never represented, but also a lot more of Fidler’s Council district.
If Storobin ends up winning, that creates a pickle for the Senate Republicans, who did not include Storobin’s residence or much of the Russian community in the new Super-Jewish district. All indications are that much of the leadership of the Orthodox Jewish community, which has developed a close relationship with Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, wants to put one of its own in the seat.
Still, there’s enough Russian population remaining that Storobin could win a GOP primary, insiders say, since Russians tend to register Republican, while many Orthodox Jews register Democratic. But that could create problems if Democrats ran an Orthodox candidate in the general election.
Speculation has run rampant throughout the campaign that the Senate GOP’s primary objective was to soften up Fidler for November, and that the conference did not necessarily expect a Storobin victory.
Trackback from your site.