Queens Borough President Donovan Richards was fighting to keep his job in a too-close-to-call battle Tuesday night, while former Rep. Vito Fossella got some Trumpian help to win the GOP nod for Staten Island’s top post.
Results released by the city Board of Elections on Tuesday, which now include a preliminary absentee ballot count, showed the tight races in Staten Island and Queens, while the contests elsewhere appeared to be settled.
Councilmember Steven Matteo conceded on Tuesday to Fossella, who pulled in 50.8% of the Republican vote, in the primary tally that for the first time included the bulk of absentee ballots cast in the primary.
“Unfortunately, while it was extremely close, it has become clear that the lead Vito Fossella has built up with absentee ballots is insurmountable and he will be the Republican nominee for borough president,” said Matteo, who is term-limited, in a statement. “I would like to congratulate him on a hard-fought election.”
The Republican primary in Staten Island was the only contest in the city in which absentee ballots gave a previously-second-place candidate a come-from-behind finish in the July 6 tally.
In the borough’s Democratic contest, Mark Murphy’s lead officially became insurmountable as the realtor pulled ahead with 65% of the Democratic vote.
“Our campaign showed that an authentic grassroots effort can make inroads here without political family names or institutional support,” said Lorraine Honor, an activist and wine store owner who lost to Murphy with 35% of the vote. “I hope Mark Murphy continues to run hard and we elect a Democrat to Borough Hall in November.”
Fossella had been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who congratulated him in a statement on Tuesday night, cheering him “onto victory against a radical left Democrat,” referring to Murphy, a moderate endorsed by the county party.
“Vito will be representing the greatest people on Earth, and he will never let you down,” the former president said. “I love Staten Island!”
Recount on Horizon in Queens?
In Queens, Richards was fighting off former Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, whom he led by a slim 50.3% to 49.7% margin.
Richards just won the seat in a special election last year. On Tuesday night, he said he was “honored that the voters have placed their faith in me to continue our Queens comeback.”
“We’re ready to get back to work and build a Queens that works for everyone,” he said in a statement.
I will never sacrifice my values to win a race.— Donovan Richards (@DRichardsQNS) July 6, 2021
Richards on Tuesday night also tweeted “We beat your racist ass” — and implied that Crowley had said he only won because of Black Lives Matter protests, while still asking for a position in his office.
Crowley responded on Wednesday afternoon, stating that she is “extremely disappointed by the slanderous and untruthful remarks made by one of my opponents.”
She did not appear to be willing to concede the tight race and added, “I’ve always believed that leadership is about taking the high road and representing the people, not Trump-like bullying on Twitter and making unfounded accusations based on no evidence whatsoever.”
The difference between Richards and Crowley is just 1,044 votes, or approximately 0.53% of the total 195,467 votes cast in the race. That’s only a hair’s width away from the threshold for an automatic hand recount in the contest. If in the final official tally the difference between the first- and second-place finishers drops below 0.5%, state law mandates the BOE do a manual recount.
It may be at least another week before the results become clearer. The tallies released Tuesday by the BOE do not include nearly 3,699 so-called “uncured” ballots, which are ballots cast with certain types of errors — such as an unsigned ballot envelope — that voters are given an opportunity to fix before July 9.
For most city races, those remaining ballots will likely not tip the scales.
In the other three boroughs, the winners were much more clear-cut.
In Manhattan, the race was over before Tuesday’s results came in.
The second-place finisher, State Sen. Brad Hoylman, conceded on Sunday with a message of thanks to his campaign team — and congratulations to Councilmember Mark Levine, who had a commanding lead with 53.7% of the vote in the most recent tally.
“At this point it seems we’ve come up short,” Hoyman said in a tweet, “but we’ve run a campaign to be proud of.”
I am so proud of this campaign. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. pic.twitter.com/tN525JYU2Q— Senator Brad Hoylman (@bradhoylman) July 4, 2021
In The Bronx, Democratic Councilmember Vanessa Gibson remained ahead over Councilmember Fernando Cabrera with 53.5% of the latest vote tally.
With absentee ballots in play, Gibson’s lead over Cabrera grew slightly. Her Council colleague won 46.5% of the vote.
The winner of the Democratic primary would almost certainly go on to win the November general election to replace Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. in the overwhelmingly blue Bronx County.
Gibson would be the first woman to become Bronx Borough President and the first non-Latino candidate to hold the office since the 1970s.
Reynoso Holds On
Brooklyn’s borough president race appeared to end with a decisive victory for Bushwick Councilmember Antonio Reynoso.
Reynoso kept his lead in the 12-candidate race for Brooklyn borough president after Tuesday’s ballot drop. He had 54.8% of the vote, well ahead of the 45.2% finish by Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, who represents Brooklyn Heights and Carroll Gardens.
Bedford-Stuyvesant Councilmember Robert Cornegy garnered 29.5% of the vote before he was eliminated in the tenth round of ranked choice voting.
Simon conceded shortly after the BOE released its new vote totals Tuesday night, saying “it is clear” that Reynoso “will be the next Brooklyn B.P.”
“Congratulations to you Antonio on your victory and a great campaign,” she tweeted. “I look forward to working with you to recover and build a post-COVID Brooklyn for everyone.”