The race to replace disgraced state Sen. Carl Kruger has gone into overtime.
Both Republican attorney David Storobin and Councilman Lew Fidler were claiming victory following Tuesday’s special election, even though early Board of Election returns show Storobin edging ahead of his Democratic opponent by a slim 126 votes with more than 700 absentee ballots left to be counted in the heavily democratic district.
Yet Fidler claims he beat his Republican rival by more than 200 votes, and, once they’re opened, the absentee ballots will be overwhelmingly Democratic.
Democratic District Leader Frank Seddio, who is expected to run for Fidler’s council seat, said that Storobin and his team lied when they claimed victory.
“Storobin’s been lying through the whole campaign,” Seddio said. “Why would he stop now?”
Fidler proclaimed victory to dozens of supporters at the Kings Bay Y on Nostrand Avenue.
“I’m proud of winning and I’m proud to be your next state senator,” Fidler said.
But Storobin was saying the exact same thing less than two miles away to more than 100 supporters at the OPM restaurant on Emmons Avenue.
“I’m going to go to Albany and fight for you,” he screamed to his backers as state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) stood by his side. “When we started this campaign, nobody gave us a chance, but we won.”
The dual victory brought an end to another odd chapter to a closely-watched race that began when Kruger resigned in disgrace hours before pleading guilty to taking more than $1 million in bribes from deep-pocketed lobbyists and developers.
Once the special election was called in January, borough Democratic and Republican bosses chose Storobin, the vice-president of the Kings County Republican Party, and Fidler, a veteran lawmaker who’s term-limited out of office in 2013, to battle for the swath of real estate that stretches from Brighton Beach to Mill Basin.
Fidler entered the race with more than $330,000 in his war chest. Republican leaders vowed to spend up to $500,000 to help Storobin win — and expand the party’s base outside of Bay Ridge, but that money never materialized: Storobin’s campaign coffers never swelled beyond $120,000 — and most of the money came from the candidate and Storobin’s mother.
Things got even zanier when it was announced that there was no purpose to the special election: Kruger’s district will disappear in December when the new legislative maps take affect. Whoever ultimately wins the seat will have to run in another district, or a new district that encompasses Borough Park, Homecrest, and Midwood — where Orthodox residents tend to vote Republican.
But the election never focused on the area’s political landscape.
The race quickly became a smear campaign after Fidler, who is Jewish, accused his opponent — a Jewish immigrant from the former Soviet Union who lost family members in the Holocaust — of having “ties” to Neo-Nazi groups.
Storobin hotly disputed the claim, sparking a war of words between the two men that turned the race into a referendum on their faiths and positions on abortion and gay marriage — hot button issues weighed by the district’s influential Orthodox and Hasidic communities.
The race took another unexpected turn when Fidler was hospitalized for two weeks after suffering a severe allergic reaction to his gout medication — allowing Storobin to campaign alone and gain momentum.
— with Colin Mixson