With a lot of mail-in votes yet to be counted, there is still no definitive winner in the Southern Brooklyn assembly and senate seats where Democrats have reportedly cut into Republicans leads after the first day of counting.
The highly secured mail-in count happens at 51-12 2nd Avenue in Sunset Park on the second floor of a massive warehouse with dozens of dedicated BOE workers, volunteers, and bipartisan spectators in gloves and face shields at folding tables. They systematically open, separate, sort, file, and bundle each stack of absentee ballots with bright orange bands to be thrown in the United States Postal Services buckets by their feet while inside of large restricted spaces or “cages” as they are called by some.
In the 46th Assembly District Incumbent Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus (D-Coney Island, Bay Ridge, Brighton Beach, Dyker Heights tweeted after the polls closed for the night that she had reduced Republican Challenger Mark Szuszkievicz’ election night lead of 2,348 votes 481 votes with some 4,000 mail-in ballots or about half of the mail-in ballots yet to be counted.
Before the absentee ballot count, my Republican opponent was leading me by 2,348 votes. After today’s count, I was able to catch up and he is now only leading by 481 votes. I look forward to having every ballot counted as soon as possible so that the district can move on.
— Mathylde Frontus (@FrontusforNY) November 17, 2020
Democratic District Leader Josue (Josh) Pierre, who was volunteering at the counting site said a number of volunteers came out from both parties. “There weren’t as many contested votes based on ballots to look at. It was clear cut what voter intentions were with a disproportionate amount of Democratic mail-in ballots.”
City Councilmember Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Gravesend) said the trend seems to be that many Democrats voted via absentee ballot so he was hoping that Frontus is able to close the margin and defeat the Republican conservative candidate.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that she’ll be able to pull through. I don’t want to be presumptuous and I don’t want to get ahead of the result, but I think its looking good to the assemblymember,” said Treyger.
But Szuszkievicz campaign Manager Liam McCabe said his count has his candidate still leading by more than 1,000 votes, and even if that number is wrong and Frontus’ is right, in recounts things go up and down.
“In Mark’s case he’s always been in the lead and that’s a testament to the campaign he ran. The race is tightening up and we always thought it would with the mail-in and the fact it is coming down to this is really embarrassing on their side. But most of Coney Island has now been counted and we’re going into better territory with the counting of Dyker Heights and Brighton Beach tomorrow so it could break our way as well,” said McCabe.
The assembly race should be more definitive tomorrow.
In the 22nd District State Senate race, where incumbent Andrew Gounardes (D- Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park) trailed Republican Challenger Vito Bruno by about 5,200 votes after election night, several sources confirmed that Gounardes had narrowed the lead considerably but with more than 22,000 mail-in votes to be counted the total results may still not be known for a few days, said several sources.
Frontus’ campaign manager, Joe Herrera, said that they knew both Republicans and Democrats would vote in droves this year even if the early vote count was unexpectedly red leaning. “With over 8,000 ballots in hand, the majority of those being from Democrats, we’re still really hopeful even though the count on Election Day didn’t work in our favor,”said Herrera about the race.
He said he thinks people are voting according to party lines based on a presidency which has very little to no impact on the local district, and people are afraid of what they are seeing on a national level.
“Irrespective of ideology or party, everyone cares about having all validly cast ballots being counted and there being a fair process for all involved,” said Republican County Chair Ted Ghorra, who was busy on location counting ballots, “including our candidates who are too often the victim of attempted character assassinations, rather than the focus being on policy and the issues that constituents truly care about. The latter of which affects all of our lives in very real ways.”
Democratic County Chair and Assemblywoman Rodneyese Bichotte said that the process is very open and transparent with ballots being opened in front of people. “We have lawyers on both sides, we obviously have objections that are being looked at, and it’s really good to see the public involved which is very important because a lot of people were skeptical about absentee ballots.”
“I personally think it’s close right now. There’s a lead in absentee ballots on the Democrat side, but that’s nothing different from nationwide which is why Biden won. There was a lot of counting in the marginal states and we have marginal areas in Brooklyn where the absentee ballots are the key to determining the result,” added Bichotte.
Bichotte said, about the division between progressive and ‘old school’ Democrats, “We are all blue and the blue comes in different shades. So when I think of a blue wave, I think of all types of Democrats, whether they are moderate, progressive, left, or more center.”
She said the “blue wave” is still here in New York City no matter what shade it is and it’s not going anywhere.
-Additional reporting by Stephen Witt