1:54 pm Jul. 6, 20121
Rep. Charlie Rangel's lead has grown to 1,158 votes over his leading challenger, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, even as new questions were raised about the impartiality of the election officials overseeing the count.
Juan Gonzalez's column today describes what he says are clear indicators that New York City Board of Elections is actively working to ensure the reelection of the 21-term congressman.
Gonazalez quotes a top Espaillat campaign official saying the B.O.E. disqualified 170 ballots from the Bronx without documenting the Assembly District and Election District they came from, and that the board failed to explain the disqualification of 192 ballots from Manhattan that were cast by registered Democrats.
Gonzalez writes that the B.O.E. official who is overseeing the count, Tim Gay, met on the Saturday before the primary with top Rangel supporter Keith Wright, who is an assemblyman and also the Manhattan Democratic chairman and New York State party co-chair.
When I reached Gay on his cell phone this morning, he told me he hadn't seen the column and declined to answer questions before reading the piece. I emailed it to him and am waiting to hear back.
A spokesman for Espaillat's campaign told me they, too, were in communication with Gay before the primary, but did not have a face-to-face meeting.
Gay is a longtime fixture in Democratic politics. He was a reporter in the late 1970s and, in addition to working at the B.O.E., he was a district leader in Manhattan's 75th Assembly District.
I called one longtime election lawyer, Henry Berger, to get his thoughts. He said that when it comes to challenging ballots and votes, "1,000 votes is not a close election," but also said that the Rangel-Espaillat race "was closer than people expected."