The nastiest campaign of the election cycle was also the closest on Election Day and the winner of the race between City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) and challenger Robert Holden may not be determined for a week or more.
Holden declared victory leading by 133 votes at the final count. More than 400 absentee ballots, affidavits and unscanned emergency ballots could total as much as 1,000 unrecorded votes, which must be counted in the coming days, according to sources, and Holden is convinced he will be declared the winner.
“We’re confident this will hold true and I think we won this race,” Holden told a crowd of 60 campaign volunteers gathered at Connelly’s Corner in Maspeth Election Night. “I’m indebted to so many people here.”
In Ozone Park, Crowley tried to rally her supporters at Woodhaven House.
“I can’t stand here and say we won, but it looks good,” Crowley said. “Only a handful of votes separate us and there’s a ton of paper ballots left.”
The rematch between the two was much closer than the Democratic primary in September when Crowley won by 25 points, but the Queens GOP offered Holden their party line. He was already on the Conservative, Reform and Dump de Blasio tickets.
“If I didn’t have those four party lines, I would have lost,” Holden said in an interview with the TimeLedger. “But after that primary loss my entire grassroots campaign changed. We worked harder in neighborhoods like Woodhaven, where we banged on doors and engaged deeply with the residents about the shortcomings in their neighborhood. Many were receptive because no one ever asked them and that’s what a Council member is supposed to do. They never saw Elizabeth Crowley in their neighborhood.”
Crowley, who was seeking a third term, took off the gloves during her comments at Woodhaven House.
“We’re not giving up this fight,” Crowley said. “We already have one nut head, one crazy guy in the White House. Do we really want another one in City Hall? I have all the confidence in the voters in Council District 30 that they don’t want another Donald Trump.”
Crowley and Holden have been throwing haymakers at each other since the president of the Juniper Park Civic Association announced his run in April. He wasn’t surprised by the comment.
“This is the kind of person she is. She’ll take my 30 years of service to the community and toss it away,” Holden said. “She labeled me as Angry Bob and calls me a crybaby. During the primary she labeled me a Republican and when I ran on the Republican party line in the general, she painted me as a Democrat. Now I know why people don’t want to get into politics anymore.”
Crowley wasn’t finished maligning Holden.
“I have an opponent who wanted to divide us and build hate and separate us, but he has only brought me closer to my constituents,” she said. “You people did the hard work by telling the truth about the work our office has accomplished and while we’re proud of the work we have accomplished, we know we have challenges ahead making this city more affordable for our seniors and our young families.”
But for now, the two bitter opponents will have to wait a week or two to find out who won. Holden said Tuesday night was the greatest moment of his life since he nearly caught Kirk Gibson’s famous home run in Game One of the 1988 World Series at Dodger Stadium.
“I know the count has to be validated, but I’m confident,” he said. “And even if it collapses on me I’ll know that I did my very best and my volunteers were on a mission. I think we were all winners as a community.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr