A Hometown View From Albany
The fault for the protracted election partially falls on the court system. For example, they ruled on a Monday that contested absentee ballots could be opened and then waited a full week before having the Board Of Elections open the ballots. State lawmakers are furious and want to change the law to allow for a faster turnaround time but they are also wary about creating laws for another branch of government and intruding on the separation of powers.
A chorus of Republicans from the state level to the local level is calling on Democratic challenger City Councilman Lew Fidler to concede to avoid a few more weeks of hand counting the more than 22,000 ballots cast in this race.
It’s not as if Fidler or his partisan team of advisors, including Campaign Manager Kalman Yeger, will listen to the advice Republicans have to offer, but it could incite public pressure so the Fidler folks are compelled to relent since Fidler says he is proud and committed to serve his constituents.
“It’s important for Lew Fidler to not drag this out because the people in the district need to be represented and that’s not happening now,” said Fidler’s opponent David Storobin, who leads by 27 votes in the 27th Senate District. “I believe that Lew Fidler is doing this so the district remains unrepresented for as long as possible. If Lew Fidler managed to take this election as a victory, he would not even take office because he has said as much to a lot of people.”
Many democrats tell me privately that Fidler should concede because dragging this out is not looking good for their party.
On another matter, Fidler is ill and taking dialysis three times a week, making it difficult for him to serve the public in Albany even if this vote was miraculously turned around through the recount. Fidler would also have to take a pay cut from his city council salary to serve in the state Senate for a brief period of time.
Moving forward, I’m told that Fidler is lining up a job as an attorney with a high-priced law firm where he could earn as much as $500,000 a year.
“For Fidler to keep on going here is just costing the state taxpayers money,” said state Republican party Chairman Ed Cox. “The Republicans have made their point here and we have won. The constituents are not being represented and they should be. They deserve representation.”
A hand recount has never been done before; so many election law observers want the recount to go forward to see how accurate the machines really are. The county GOP chairman sees it differently.
“Enough is enough,” declared Kings County GOP Chairman Craig Eaton. “Certify the results and seat Senator-elect Storobin so he can get to work. All the hand count will do is cost the taxpayers more money, which is unnecessary, and the outcome will be the same.”
The legislative session is scheduled to end on June 21st. Over the next month, lawmakers will sit in their seats for session votes 10 more times.
“The legislative session is almost over,” Cox continued. “The Republican majority is going to vote as the majority votes. The addition of one is not really going to have an impact at this point and to just be persistent isn’t productive.”
“It’s important that residents of the 27th Senate District have a Senator in office working and fighting for them,” said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. “Any further delay will only deprive Brooklyn residents of the representation they deserve.”
In early June, candidates will begin circulating petitions asking voters enrolled in the candidates’ political party to allow them to be on the November ballot. “I expect to be running in the new super-Jewish district but I haven’t organized my campaign for that race because my people have been so busy with the recount process,” Storobin said. In his next race, he is expected to face another stiff challenge from Simcha Felder, a former three-term city councilman and currently the deputy comptroller for budget and accounting for the City of New York. Felder was the chief of staff for Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a power broker in that district.
While Hikind is supporting Felder, he recently had Storobin over to his house for Friday night dinner. The guest list included a dozen of Hikind’s family and friends but politics was not discussed. Hikind allegedly withheld his support in the special election so he would have to switch allegiances in case Storobin won. Hikind intends to support Felder in the November Senate race. Storobin says he first met Hikind in 1983 working on Rudy Giuliani’s mayoral campaign. Hikind says Storobin is “a very nice man.”