Backers of Margarita Lopez-Torres, the insurgent Brooklyn civil court judge who holds the lead in the tight race for the borough’s powerful surrogate judge position, say Democratic party bosses are trying to use the courts to take her victory away. With two canvasses of voting machines completed, and eligible paper ballots counted, Lopez Torres, who has been battling Brooklyn Democratic boss Clarence Norman for years, appears to have won a narrow 119-vote victory over Norman’s candidate, Diana Johnson, in the September 13 primary.
But the count has been challenged by Johnson’s attorney, Bernard Mitchell Alter, who says many affidavit ballots were wrongly disqualified. A court hearing on the matter is set for tomorrow.
Alter, however, admitted to the Daily News’ Hugh Son last week that he didn’t seek to have the affidavit ballots opened in the original recount since his candidate was ahead at that time. After recounts showed Lopez Torres ahead, he changed his tune.
“This is an attempt to snatch away a legitimate and astounding victory in the surrogate’s court race,” said state Senator Martin Connor at a City Hall rally yesterday of Lopez Torres supporters. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez said that when she was at the Board of Elections to observe the recount, Norman and his lawyers agreed that the ballots were flawed and shouldn’t be opened.
“Now they want to reverse that, because they lost,” said Velaquez.
Norman had other things on his mind Monday. He was in Broooklyn Supreme Court as his lawyer and prosecutors delivered summations in the first of four corruption cases brought against him by District Attorney Charles Hynes, who won his own primary against Norman’s candidate this month. The jury is expected to get the case tomorrow. Norman is charged with failing to report payments made to his campaign by a lobbying firm.