The Democratic incumbent who said he had worked to clean up the state’s finances beat a former hedge fund manager Wednesday in a tight race for New York comptroller.
With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, buoyed by strong support in New York City, led political newcomer Harry Wilson by 125,000 votes or 3 percentage points.
DiNapoli claimed victory early Wednesday, though Wilson declined to concede, saying the count was too close and absentee ballots still needed to be added.
“It’s not always about the polls or the pundits or the papers for that matter,” DiNapoli told supporters. “It is about the people.”
DiNapoli, a former assemblyman, was chosen by colleagues three years ago after Comptroller Alan Hevesi left in a scandal. Hevesi, another former assemblyman, has since admitted accepting free travel and campaign contributions from a financier in exchange for favoring his investment business with the $130 billion state workers’ pension fund.
DiNapoli, 56, said he had followed sound investment strategies, identified more than $3 billion in wasteful public spending and instituted rules to stop investment firms from using paid intermediaries to get business from the pension fund.
Wilson, a 39-year-old father of four from Scarsdale with a Harvard MBA, argued that New York is not financially competitive, loses population to other states, has high taxes, big state deficits and underfunded pensions.
“I remain hopeful that I will prevail in my campaign to bring fiscal accountability to Albany and professionalism to the office of the New York State Comptroller,” Wilson said.
The comptroller’s office should have audits that identify not only waste and fraud but inefficiency, Wilson said.
DiNapoli, who is unmarried, was an assemblyman from Long Island for two decades. A former phone company employee with a master’s degree in human resources management, he had broad support from unions, which helped fund his campaign.
Wilson left Silver Point Capital two years ago and worked for the Obama administration on the General Motors restructuring.
By MICHAEL VIRTANEN,Associated Press
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.