Sunday, December 7, 2008

Frank Padavan Calls It His Race, But State Senate Battle Rages On by Lisa L. Colangelo - New York Daily News

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The battle for the 11th state Senate District seat now being waged in courtrooms and election offices doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon.

But as far as the longtime incumbent, Republican Frank Padavan, is concerned, the race is over. And he is confident he is the winner.

The latest count has Padavan ahead by 580 votes, with nearly 2,000 paper ballots still hanging in the balance.

“This is senseless legal wrangling,” Padavan said Wednesday. “This is an attempt by [Democrats] to count flawed votes already evaluated by a bipartisan process at the Board of Elections.”

Democratic Party officials say City Councilman James Gennaro, who challenged Padavan in what ended up being a surprisingly close race, still has a shot.

They are demanding that 1,750 paper ballots - originally dismissed by the Board of Elections - be reconsidered.

Democrats have accused Republicans of selectively challenging ballots cast by Asian and Latino voters.

Outside a Queens courtroom this week, several students from St. John’s University sat for hours after answering subpoenas. Republican lawyers had brought them into court to challenge their votes. But a judge dismissed the cases, calling the subpoenas a “nuisance.”

“Regardless of what the Republicans would like to have happen, the election should not and will not be over until every legitimate vote is counted,” said Austin Shafran, a spokesman for the State Senate Democratic Campaign Committee.

While Republicans were set to ask a judge Wednesday to certify the election and end the challenges, Democrats made it clear they won’t back down.

An additional ally in the Senate could help state Sen. Malcolm Smith pull in wayward Democrats and have a stronger shot at becoming majority leader.

Republicans said they remain confident.

“Even taking into account the grand total of 252 ballots that have been put aside for court review, it has become a mathematical impossibility for Councilmember Gennaro to win this election,” said Joe Conway of the State Senate Republican Campaign Committee.

If the election is not settled by Jan. 1, the 11th District could find itself without a representative in the upper house.

Source: NY Daily News