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Posted by Steven Glazer-Urban Times News on September 08, 2003 at 17:12:13:

Urban Times News
By Steven Glazer, email:

More About Steven Glazer and the Urban Times News

Jersey City—Superior Court Judge Arthur D’Italia dismissed the complaint by Harvey Smith, on the first count of allegedly illegal votes, against the June primary victory of Glenn Cunningham for 31st District Senate Seat. Even if every vote challenged were proven illegal as HCDO attorneys claim, the difference would not have been enough to offset Cunningham’s drubbing of Smith by 2,075 votes. Fewer than 800 votes remain challenged of approximately 21,000 ballots cast.

Smith initiated his me-too suit after Bayonne Mayor Joe Doria began initial challenges to the June primary, initially demanding a recount and then almost immediately filing suit seeking to overturn the election on grounds of voter fraud, aimed clearly at the African American vote bloc of Jersey City’s Ward F. Doria’s suit also charged overspending by the Cunningham ticket including Assembly candidates Lou Manzo and Anthony Chiappone. While Cunningham was expected to walk away easily out polling Smith, the upset over Doria with 24 years in the Assembly was a stunning victory. Manzo and Chiappone outpolled Hudson County Democratic Assembly incumbents Doria and Elba Perez Cinciarelli by 600 and 1,500 votes respectively.

Doria’s election challenge initially touched off outrage as it centered on Jersey City voters who, in the 31st District are centered in the predominantly African American Ward F. Community Leaders were quick to react saying that when Ward F turned out in the past for Doria, there was no accusation of fraud, but if the vote went against him, there must be something wrong. There was also the more outrageous inference that African American voters were more inclined to commit fraud than voters in the Bayonne portion of the 31st District.

The other count of the HCDO complaint against Cunningham’s victory is the allegation of overspending of campaign funds. Campaign strategists for Cunningham have said that the notion of overspending is ridiculous because the HCDO outspent Cunningham’s winning slate by more than 5 to 1.

“Cunningham’s approvals are so high and name recognition so high, that it is not possible for us to spend enough money to change the outcome of the election if we had spent ten times as much as we did. It just could not be done. We had studies done to find out it would cost about $150,000 in additional advertising to win an extra 74 votes.

The smallest difference was 600 plus votes in the Assembly race, and at those prices we would have had to spend an extra $1,350,000 more than we did to change the outcome by over spending. In fact we spent a grand total of about $350,000 for all candidates combined and I do not see where you can call that overspending when HCDO spent $2,000,000 on the same number of candidates. On the other hand, if I were them, I would be pretty sore about burning $2 Million to lose so badly too. But then here we are in court and they have five lawyers charging probably not less than $1,500 an hour, $9,000 a day, for a couple of weeks.”

The case will continue with HCDO attorney questioning witnesses called mostly from Cunningham’s organization and then with Cunningham’s attorneys examining evidence and testimony from the HCDO losers. Depositions of HCDO County Chairman Senator Bernard Kenny Jr. and HCDO former treasurer Donald Scarinci are expected to be part of the testimony. Scarinci and Kenny are said to have recently received “target letters,” from federal law enforcement officials in connection with ongoing criminal investigations. Scarinci vehemently denied receiving any such communication, but has resigned as treasurer of the HCDO according to knowledgeable sources.

Kenny has been so evasive that HCDO attorneys initially told the court they were unable to locate him to advise him to appear to be deposed. It has been a week since originally ordered and Kenny has not yet been deposed. Scarinci says that he has not been made aware of any intention to depose him, although Cunningham’s attorneys have made known their intent to depose Scarinci, Scarinci may not have been summoned to appear yet.

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