Here on Long Island, the count goes on for the last unresolved congressional races in the country with four-term incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), now ahead of his Republican challenger, Randy Altschuler by either 235 (Bishop’s tally) or 234 (Altschuler’s).
“We’re behind by one less vote according to us,” says Rob Ryan, senior communications advisor for the Altschuler campaign. The unofficial tally is Bishop with 97,050 votes and Altschuler with 96,815.
Next Tuesday in Suffolk County Supreme Court, both parties will be on hand to expedite the process regarding the remaining ballot challenges, and even here the two sides can’t agree on that number. According to the Altschuler campaign, there are 1,239 ballot challenges by Altschuler, 770 by Bishop; according to the Bishop campaign, Altschuler is challenging 1,261 ballots and Bishop is challenging 790 ballots.
“Most of these challenges are going to get dismissed,” says Jon Schneider, a spokesman for the Bishop campaign. “When all is said and done, there will be probably at least a 350 pickup for us. Our hope is that a winner can be certified by next Friday.”
Another issue to resolve in this contest is the military ballot question. There were 71 original military ballots set aside because of a printing error discovered by the Suffolk Board of Elections. The mistake did not affect the congressional race but was significant enough that the board mailed out a second military ballot, which was due back by Nov. 23. Then the board will have to determine whether the 71 original ballots have been superseded by the second ones.
In a race critical to the balance of power in the state Senate, Republican challenger Jack Martins, mayor of Mineola, leads the freshman incumbent, Sen. Craig Johnson (D-Port Washington), by 375 votes, with 75 absentee ballots left to be counted, and another 170 ballots still being challenged in Nassau County Supreme Court. The Democrats have held a slim 32-30 vote majority, but the outcome of this race and two others is likely to flip it.
Johnson will be in Albany next Monday for the special session, says his spokesman, Rich Azzopardi. Johnson’s campaign still has questions about the election counting. Azzopardi said that 4,000 people voted for governor but apparently not for the state Senate race, which is “very disconcerting.” The last day for court challenges in the state Senate races is Dec. 20.