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Foy Vows to 'Count Every Vote' in Tight Race to Replace Al Vann in Brooklyn

By Paul DeBenedetto | September 11, 2013 8:53am | Updated on September 12, 2013 8:30am
 The 36th city council race remained too close to call, and Foy declined to concede Wednesday morning.
Robert Cornegy Supporters Celebrated on Tuesday, Despite the 36th City Council Race Being Too Close to Call.
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — As election night dwindled into the morning after, there was still no answer to the question of who would replace outgoing city Councilman Al Vann in Brooklyn's 36th City Council district.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Robert Cornegy and Kirsten John Foy were neck-and-neck, with Cornegy ahead of Foy by just 94 votes, according to reports.

Trailing the 56th Assembly district leader by less than one percentage point, Foy said he would not concede the race until all paper ballots were counted.

"We're going to count every vote," Foy said early Wednesday morning. "I think it's premature to celebrate, it's premature to mourn. It's not over."

On an election day defined in part by problems at the polls, Foy said that there were still absentee ballots to be counted, in addition to what he said were "hundreds" of affidavit ballots filled out by voters who were stuck at faulty machines.

On Tuesday, Republican primary winner Joe Lhota had to fill out one such ballot when his voting machine broke down, and Foy said he and his wife suffered the same fate when they went to the polls.

"Every vote should be counted," Foy reiterated at his campaign headquarters on Wednesday morning. "The sanctity of the vote needs to be protected."

At Cornegy's election night party, the tone was decidedly different.

The candidate was flanked by Vann and current Assemblywoman Annette Robinson at the celebration, while supporters cheered and danced to a live DJ, declaring their candidate the victor.

While Cornegy himself said he believed he was the winning candidate, he also acknowledged that the race would likely continue.

"We won, and I guess there's a moral victory in it," Cornegy said. "But the margin of victory is very close."

Cornegy received 4,138 votes — 29.93 percent of voters in the district — while Foy came in at 4,044 votes, or 29.25 percent, according to reports.

Behind Foy were Robert Waterman with 21.61 percent of the vote, Conrad Tillard with 13.44 percent of the vote, and Reginald Swiney with 5.76 percent.

The district leader said he expected his victory to stand even when the paper ballots are counted, due to what he called an engaged electorate in his favor.

"We're solid within the district," Cornegy said. "These people that went through the process of filling out paper ballots are more than likely our supporters."

Though Cornegy said he didn't expect the race to be as close as it was, he linked Foy's performance to money spent on his behalf by Jobs For New York, an outside spending group headed by members of the Real Estate Board of New York.

Jobs For New York spent more than $300,000 in support of Foy's candidacy, according to campaign finance records.

"I feel like they threw everything but the kitchen sink at us this election cycle," Cornegy said. "Including spending a ridiculous amount of money."

In the race's final days, Cornegy was also backed by an independent spending group called the Small Business Coalition, which spent about $30,000 on the candidate's behalf.

Foy, who has publicly renounced Jobs For New York's support, said he commissioned robocalls in the district to distance himself from the group.

The candidate also classified his campaign as an "insurgency" against what he called the political establishment supporting Cornegy, who ran against Vann in the last election before bowing out and supporting the incumbent.

"He's been running this race since 2008," Foy said. "I'm very proud of what this campaign has accomplished. We went against a 40-year machine."