A decision by a state Supreme Court judge could be all that stands between Kingston Democratic mayoral hopeful Hayes Clement’s elimination from November’s general election. Meanwhile, Republican Andi Turco-Levin who, like Clement, had been her party’s favorite in the primary, suffered a stunning upset when absentee ballots cast for fellow alderman Ron Polacco overcame her 21-vote primary night lead and left her out of the race.
Last week, primary night ended with Clement ahead of his rival for the Democratic Party line, city Assistant Corporation Counsel Shayne Gallo, brother of the late Kingston Mayor T.R. Gallo, by just six votes. But there were 109 absentee ballots for the Democratic primary embargoed at Ulster Board of Elections headquarters. One week later, with the absentee ballots counted, the situation reversed — Gallo now holds a 697-691 lead over the Clement, the Ward 9 alderman who entered the race with the support of party leaders and a hefty advantage in fundraising. Now, Clement’s only hope lies in state Supreme Court, where a judge Monday will determine the fate of 26 absentee ballots which were challenged by attorneys for the candidates. (Gallo challenged 14 ballots while Clement contested 12.) The judge will decide which ballots should be opened and counted and which should be thrown out for errors.
A handful of absentee ballots also held the key to the Independence Party line where Clement ran a write-in “opportunity to ballot” campaign against Gallo, who was handed the ballot line by party leaders. On primary night, Gallo held a 28-26 lead for the third-party line. After the absentee ballot count, the race for the Independence line ended in a dead heat, 35-35. That leaves the decision in the hands of the same party leaders who decided to back Gallo in the first place.
“I’m not going to say one way or the other right now,” said Independence Party Chairman Len Bernardo outside Board of Elections headquarters on Wednesday, standing alongside Gallo. “But we like this guy.”
Polacco defeats Turco-Levin
For Republicans, the opening of absentee ballots ended with a more decisive result. Polacco, who garnered almost no support from Republican Party leaders at a June convention and raised almost no money, emerged with the party line in hand thanks to an intensive door-to-door effort.