It’s now Eric Dinowitz’s race to lose, although he’ll have to wait three weeks or so to find out if he’s going to be the area’s next city councilman.
Dinowitz, son of Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, captured more than 40 percent of top choices in a race where less than 10 percent of eligible voters participated in. That’s not enough, however, to score an outright win, meaning this race now moves into ranked-choice counting.
Once all the absentee votes are received in the coming weeks, the city’s elections board will start the process of elimination, beginning with retired New York Police Department detective Carlton Berkley. Then, one-by-one, each of the candidates with the lowest vote total after every round is eliminated until there are just two candidates left.
Mino Lora, a non-profit executive director out of Spuyten Duyvil, would need a minor miracle to catch up to Dinowitz. But it could happen — if voters who selected Jessica Haller and Dan Padernacht first ranked Lora higher than they did Dinowitz at a significant rate.
Some 1,200 votes separate Dinowitz and Lora — not including absentee ballots — but both Haller and Padernacht have some 2,000 votes between them to offer to Dinowitz and Lora.
Haller had joined Lora to convince voters to make them the top two choices. If that move was successful, Dinowitz could find himself with a much more narrow win at the end — or even possibly in second place behind Lora.
If the Queens special election race that ultimately elected Selvena Brooks-Powers to the seat previously held by Donovan Richards is any preview to what might happen in this race, we may not know a final result until April 15.
Yet, even that race hinted the initial count might be a strong indicator ofhow the race will shake out. On election night Feb. 23, Brooks-Powers had just a 200-vote lead over Pesach Osina. But once the additional rounds were over, Brooks-Powers added more than 1,000 votes, while Osina tacked on just under 200.
The rest of the candidates were ultimately eliminated in reverse order as well, revealing the initial top five would be the final ranking in that race.
Whether that will happen in this particular race is still yet to be seen.
The city must wait for all absentee and overseas ballots to arrive before it can implement the additional rounds of vote counting as part of the ranked-choice system.
The process involves eliminating the lowest vote-getter, and then counting their next available choice. This continues until there is just two candidates left, and one achieves a true majority.
Election officials said this count should be completed sometime in early April.
The winner of this special election will fill the final year of Cohen’s term. The former city councilman resigned his seat at the end of last year after being elected as a Bronx Supreme Court judge.
No matter what happens here, anyone looking to represent this area on the city council — including Tuesday’s ultimate winner — must turn around and compete in the June primaries. The Democratic winner of that race is expected to cruise to an easy victory in November, and then serve on the council until the end of 2023.
All of Tuesday’s candidates except Kevin Pazmino are expected to run in the June Democratic primary, joined by social worker Abigail Martin and political organizer Marcos Sierra.
Martin already has raised more than $41,000 for the race, giving herself a significant head start not just among those who competed in the special election, but also Sierra, who has raised just $6,300 so far.
Lora seems to already have her attention redirected to the June primary.
“Whatever the final outcome is once ranked-choice analysis is done, it’s clear they will come at us even harder in the June primary,” Lora said in a statement Tuesday night. “It’s also clear that we ran the strongest campaign, and we look forward to having the support of the other candidates as we fight to win the June 22” primary.
Dinowitz, however, told The Press Tuesday night that he wasn’t declaring victory just yet.
“We have to wait for the absentee ballots to be counted, but I feel very good about the numbers that came in,” the former school teacher said. “We had a broad coalition of support throughout the entire district. We have a plurality of support everywhere.”
Dinowitz wouldn’t comment directly on the slim possibility Lora could get enough lower-ranked votes to give him a serious challenge in a few weeks, but said he leaves his fate to the ballots that have been cast.
“That’s the work I’ve done as a Democratic district leader, to make sure voting is easy and accessible,” Dinowitz said. “We need to make sure every vote is counted, but until that happens, I am not declaring victory until everybody’s voice is heard.”