City Councilmember James Gennaro has conceded the state Senate race for the 11th District to incumbent Frank Padavan, marking the end of one of the most drawn out political contests in New York State history.
On Thursday, February 5, Judge Kevin Kerrigan lifted his order to the Board of Elections (BOE) which will allow the election results to be certified – the last bar to Padavan’s taking the seat he has held for 38 years.
With all but 256 disputed paper ballots out of 91,000 votes counted by Tuesday, February 3, Padavan, the Republican, led Gennaro, the Democrat, by 578 votes when the parties returned to court on Thursday, February 5.
Gennaro conceded that afternoon in a strongly worded statement, accusing Padavan and the Republicans of conspiring to “wage a systematic and sustained effort to either disqualify or deny consideration of perfectly valid ballots.”
“The events of the last three months notwithstanding,” Gennaro said, “I wish Mr. Padavan well and call for this election, once the vote count is completed, to be certified without further delay so that the people of the 11th Senate District can once again have representation in the State Senate.”
Padavan’s statement was also sharply worded.
He accused “Councilman James Gennaro and his political cohorts” of engaging “In a shameful smear campaign intended to mislead residents of the 11th Senate District.”
Padavan said that Gennaro’s post-election strategy was “a complete disservice to the community and led to the disenfranchisement of the tens of thousands of Northeast Queens residents.”
A knowledgeable source told The Queens Courier that the final tally showed Padavan ahead by 480 votes. “He was ahead by 502 when they re-canvassed the machines a week after the election – before they counted any of the paper ballots,” the source said, adding, “After three months of maneuvering, they moved the margin of victory by 22 votes.”
The last round of the imbroglio came after a protracted court battle when Queens Board of Elections (BOE) clerks, surrounded by attorneys for both candidates, re-examined 2,566 paper ballots that had previously been ruled invalid.
According to sources with intimate knowledge of the process, roughly 172 ballots were “resuscitated” and counted and a handful were added to the “disputed” pile. The rest were discarded and not counted.
Padavan said “In fact, ballots that were deemed invalid based on Election Law by the both the Queens Board of Elections and the New York City Board of Elections were examined twice providing an unprecedented level of scrutiny and due diligence for any recount in our state.”
He concluded with a “Pledge to continue to fight on behalf of the all residents of Northeast Queens each and every day and help put our economy on the right path to recovery.”
Shortly before Gennaro conceded, Padavan told The Queens Courier, “They only delayed the outcome. This is totally undermining the democratic process.”
“At least I haven’t missed much,” Padavan conceded, noting that the only Senate vote since January was for the $1.6 billion deficit reduction act.
“It wasn’t presented to the media until hours before the vote. The committees did not receive copies,” he said.
Though Padavan has been working in the interim and his office expenses and staff salaries were covered through March, he noted, “I haven’t been paid in a month.”