Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz is one step closer to winning a seventh term in Albany after winning Thursday’s Democratic primary — one of the closest elections he’s faced in his political career.
With all of the polling districts reporting in, Cymbrowitz (D–Sheepshead Bay) received 1,774 votes, giving him a slim 244-vote lead over Democratic challenger Ben Akselrod.
Tensions were high at the High-Way Democratic Club’s results party on McDonald Avenue as Community Board 15 chairwoman Teresa Scavo called out the results as they trickled in.
Cymbrowitz appeared confident as he thanked friends and supporters, but left his own party before the vote was called, and refused to speculate on the outcome.
“I think we’re going to have to wait until all the votes are counted,” Cymbrowitz said, refusing to comment further.
Akselrod a former CB15 district manager, would not comment or concede, claiming that the vote was too close to call.
Over the last decade, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz usually ran unopposed on primary day. It was also rare for him to have an opponent in the general election, where he would often appear on both the Democratic and Republican lines.
The campaign to represent residents in Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, and parts of Brighton Beach was a largely one-sided affair. Akselrod declared his candidacy in May and almost immediately began throwing verbal body blows at Cymbrowitz, but the incumbent said nothing, ignoring his opponent at every opportunity — and even bowed out of a debate scheduled in late August.
As the race heated up, Akselrod accused Cymbrowitz of favoring political correctness over the needs of his constituents, lashing out at the six-term legislator for refusing to take a stand on the Sheepshead Bay mosque, even though the house of worship that Emmons Avenue residents are fighting is not in his district.
Akselrod also accused Cymbrowitz of calling his Jewish colleagues immoral when the perennial pol put out an ad describing himself as, “The only secular Jew in New York City who votes in favor of yeshivas and against immorality.”
Cymbrowitz may have stayed mum when faced with the issues, but he must have been saying the right things to the right people: he had more than $110,000 going into the final stretch of the campaign, dwarfing Akselrod’s puny $34,000 war chest.