The specter of controversy hanging over City Council Republican candidate George Smith did little to boost his chances for victory Tuesday as his opponent Joe Nardiello easily secured the nomination with more than two thirds of votes cast.
Unofficial results indicated that Nardiello had secured 75 percent of the vote.
While the win was huge for Nardiello, less than 500 Republicans came out to vote in the 39th, a mostly Democratic district that cuts through Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Windsor Terrace, Kensington and Borough Park.
“The figures were low, but this was the first Republican primary in this district in anyone’s lifetime,” Nardiello told this paper. “[Republicans in this district] feel disaffected by the city’s current political leaders and their candidate for president just lost an election. It was a challenge to get them to the polls.”
“In the midst of all of this, we did pretty well,”
Smith never called to congratulate Nardiello, although he did call us with a statement. He’s leaving the Republican party.
“As of this date I am unenrolling from the Republican Party and re-registering as an Independent,” said Smith reading from a statement that he had some trouble getting through. “This GOP primary was an opportunity for healthy and respectful debate and discussion on the internal direction of the party, but petty personal feuds were advanced to mudslinging and infighting beyond measure.”
Claiming to be the victim, Smith said that the Republican party was “helpless to get a handle on the deranged rogue attacking the party’s own candidate (himself).”
“The Republican party demonstrated its impotence and irrelevance when supporting its own candidates,” he said, claiming that his fight isn’t over. His name will still be found on the Conservative line at the polls this November.
But this second chance ploy might all be for naught.
After hearing about his recent sex assault bust stemming from a messy divorce, as well as a previous arrest in the 1990s for robbery and impersonating a police officer, the Conservative Party, which had endorsed him months earlier, told Smith that they wanted him off the ballot and asked him to petition to court to do so.
When Smith refused, the Conservative Party voted to withdraw their endorsement, although his name will be seen at the ballot box.
“During the next few weeks we will be advocating Conservatives to vote for Nardiello,” said Jerry Kassar, chair of the borough’s Conservative party. “There’s no legal way to get [Smith] off the ballot without his cooperation and he’s not cooperating.”
Besides garnering votes from Republicans and Conservatives, Nardiello said that he plans to reach across the aisle and encourage district Democrats to vote for him.
“I embody reaching across the aisle and washing away partisanship,” he said. “Voters are going to find that in this race there is one candidate that can’t be easily labeled and anyone who is an independent thinker will soon find reason to support this candidate.”
During his acceptance speech, Lander said that he heard “I gotta feeling” from the Black Eyed Peas -- a subtle premonition of how the day was going to end for his campaign.
Nardiello also heard a song when he woke up Tuesday morning, he explained.
“It was ‘Break on Through to the Other Side’ by the Doors,” he said.
Only time will tell if Jim Morrison can predict the future.