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Alec Brook Krasny: Storobins victory is a problem for the Republican party

22 , 2012, Interviewed by Gennady Katsov, translated by Mike Pokrovsky

Alec Brook-Krasny, New York State Assembly member.

Alec Brook-Krasny, New York State Assembly member. RUNYweb.com

IN RUSSIAN / IN ENGLISH

On March 20 South Brooklyn held special elections for the NY State Senate seat, vacated by senator Carl Kruger after the allegations of corruption and fraud had been raised against him last December. Voters of Senate District 27, which includes Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Gravesend and Mill Basin, chose between the Democratic City council member Lew Fidler and the lawyer and Brooklyn Republican party vice-president David Storobin.

Because after the preliminary vote counting there has been no clear winner, the election continues to stir minds and raise certain questions, which, exclusively for RUNYweb.com, were answered by the New York State Assembly member Alec Brook-Krasny.

Today mass-media, quoting a New York law, report that the situation with the South Brooklyn State Senate elections won’t come to a head for next two weeks: the elections took place on March 20, and the results will be known only in the beginning of April. What is this law?
This shouldn’t necessarily be two weeks. The exact term is determined by two factors. Firstly, it’s the ballots of the voters who were either unable to come to the polling stations due to poor health, or were too far from the polling stations on the election day – for example, in another state or abroad.

The New York law allows such voters to vote by mail. They fill in their ballots and mail them to the Board of Election. The last day these voters can do this is the day right before the elections. In our case, that was Monday, March 19.

Usually such ballots come in within 1-2 days, but because not all post offices work with the same speediness, and in the elections every vote counts, the law stipulates the term of one week for accepting any absentee ballots.

Thus, the opening of mail with such ballots in the presence of delegates from both candidates’ campaigns and Board of Election officials, and the manual tally of the votes will take place on Tuesday, March 27.

Secondly, according to the law, if the vote difference between the candidates is less than half a percent, as is the case with Fidler and Storobin, then all the bulletins that went through the voting machines are to be recounted manually.

As we can see, both categories of the ballots can swing the situation in favor of one or the other candidate. The certification of any candidate’s results is performed exclusively by a special 7-member committee from the Board of Election. After the recount has been finished, this committee certifies the candidates’ results. Only then can the winner be officially declared. 

You, as a Democrat, may not like this question, but it’s important to many: if Storobin wins, what are his chances in the November elections, in half a year?
With the re-partitioning of the voting districts, the Senate District 27, for which both Fidler and Storobil run, is divided into four separate Districts with a small percentage of Russian-speaking voters. One of the Districts will be Jewish Orthodox. As I said in my previous interview for RUNYweb.com, the Republicans decided to create a Jewish Orthodox district in hopes of getting a Jewish Orthodox Republican into the Senate in the upcoming elections.

To satisfy ambitions of the Russian-speaking Republicans, the GOP gave them Storobin as the proverbial carrot, letting him run for a district that will have ceased to exist by the year’s end. 

The strategy here is clear, and, ironically, is not aimed at Storobin’s victory. The Republicans had been hoping, I’m sure, for Filder’s victory. After 6 months in Senate, he would leave it, having no chances to win elections with the help of a Jewish Orthodox district, mainly because of his support for same-sex marriages.

If Storobin wins the March elections, the Republicans will have the problem of what to do with him afterwards?

It’s well known that Storobin was supported by the Russians and the Jewish Orthodox who were voting against the supporter of same-sex marriages Fidler. And while now Storobin has a chance to win the SD-27, where these groups form a majority, in the new scheme of things his only option is to run for the Jewish Orthodox district because he has no chance in the other three districts. 

If he decides to run in the new Jewish Orthodox district, the Republicans will face a dilemma. On the one hand, he’s not Jewish Orthodox, and the district planned to put one as a Senator. On the other hand, if Storobin runs in the district with a small percentage of Russians, he will definitely lose to a Jewish Orthodox Democrat. 

And if the Republicans forbid Storobin to run in the district, there will be a huge conflict between the party and its Russian-speaking members.

In your interviews on TV and radio you have often compared Storobin’s campaign with the Soviet propaganda. Why?
Back in the USSR there was a practice: when a man who spoke rational things that were against the official line of the Party and the Government, but at the same time that were hard to dispute, he was proclaimed mentally ill and sent to a madhouse. There was a personal attack against this man. The same tactics I witnessed during the election campaign, used by Storobin’s supporters.

Fidler tried to bring up real issues that the district ought to be concerned about, but in reply there came only shouts about his being a homosexual, his support for the mosque in Shipshead Bay etc. 

The negative publicity Storobin’s campaign was making full use of, is the common tactics of candidates who have nothing to their credit and whose only weapon is the dirt they fling at their opponents.

Do you have any complaints about Fidler’s campaign?
As for Filder’s campaign, I do not agree with the accusations towards Storobin about his “Nazi mentality”. I didn’t see the publications Filder was talking about, but can make an assumption that Storobin, due to his inexperience, could have posted something on the Internet without considering the consequences. That is, something people talk about “in the kitchen”, as Russians say. In the kitchen people often say things about other communities or people, that can be considered extremist. And once you divulge these thoughts in public (and Internet, no doubt, is a public place) they, of course, attract special attention from extremist websites, whose patrons see you as their comrade. Any experiences politician will think ten times before saying or writing something, so that their words are not misinterpreted.

What is the current situation?
Since Tuesday, March 20, after the tally of manually filled and machine-registered ballots, Storobin leads by 119 votes, which is 0,56% of all the ballots counted. Right now the Board of Election has no plans for a manual recount, since, by the law, this is only required when the difference is 0,50%. This 0,06% discrepancy, though, gives the Board an option to order a manual recount. On March 27, after the 757 absentee ballots have been counted, there are two possible scenarios. First, the Democrats manage cut that 0,06% discrepancy and reach the 0,5% vote difference that calls for a manual recount according to the law. Second, the Democrats receive more that 119 of the 757 votes and Fidler wins.

What would you wish the candidates?
From my own experience I know how nervous candidates are during recounts, and I would like to wish them to take all this easy, so that they might not lose their health over it.


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