Insults, accusations and lawsuits are flying in the increasingly bitter race to fill Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ former seat, as candidate Rubain Dorancy lodged a formal complaint of voter fraud against his primary opponent Jesse Hamilton in Brooklyn Supreme Court–just as Mr. Hamilton sought in court to remove Mr. Dorancy from the ballot on the claim that he does not reside in the district.
Mr. Dorancy yesterday asked a judge to throw out Mr. Hamilton’s petitions on the allegation that nearly half of them are not written to nominate Mr. Hamilton for an open Democratic primary, but instead “to fill a vacancy”–the wording used in the event of a special election. Gov. Andrew Cuomo decided this year not to call any special elections–wherein just one candidate from each party would be allowed to seek office–to fill empty state legislative posts, and instead allowed the candidates to be selected through party primaries.
Mr. Dorancy’s suit seeks to have all of Mr. Hamilton’s petitions voided, and Mr. Hamilton’s name removed from the ballot, on the basis that so many of them contain the “to fill a vacancy” language.
“You can’t run for a vacancy that does not exist. You can’t carry petitions and tell voters you’re running for a vacancy that does not exist,” said Ronnie Sykes, a spokeswoman for Mr. Dorancy’s camp.
Mr. Hamilton’s camp retorted by reiterating its legal claims that Mr. Dorancy’s primary residence is located outside the district–and that he therefore cannot understand the pressing need for representation in the State Senate, which the area has lacked since Mr. Adams ascended to the borough presidency in January.
“Here are the facts: Rubain Dorancy doesn’t live in this district and therefore simply does not understand what matters to our neighborhoods,” said spokesman Nathan Smith. “Jesse filed petitions to immediately fill the vacancy in this district because we have been without a Senator for nine months, and Jesse understands our families can’t go any longer without real representation that addresses crucial issues like keeping our streets safe, creating affordable housing and making sure our children get the education they deserve.”
Mr. Dorancy blasted Mr. Hamilton’s non-residency claims against him–maintaining he is a lifelong resident of the district–and attacked Mr. Hamilton for subpoenaing his three underage children in the suit.
“It is one thing to pick a fight with me, as an adult. But by announcing that he intends to turn my children against me in a court of law, Mr. Hamilton has taken this political campaign into the gutter,” Mr. Dorancy said in a statement. “In fact, that doesn’t surprise me, considering that Mr. Hamilton has been integrally involved in the morally corrupt political machine which has controlled the Crown Heights neighborhood for decades.”
Mr. Hamilton’s camp fired back.
“It’s laughable that Rubain Dorancy can use his family to commit fraud and lie to voters about where he lives, but then wants to blame someone else for trying to find the truth,” said Mr. Smith. “This is the same shirking of responsibility that we’ve seen over and over from Bloomberg stooge Rubain Dorancy. Voters deserve an honest representative like Jesse Hamilton, not someone like Mr. Dorancy who can’t even be trusted to give us his real address.”
Legal experts were unsure how either case would hold up in court. Attorney Sarah Steiner said there was no precedent that she knew of for Mr. Dorancy’s effort to void all of Mr. Hamilton’s petitions. She said, however, that his case had merit in her opinion.
“All the petitions that are for a vacancy, I think, are nullities,” said Ms. Steiner.
Election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder said that Mr. Hamilton’s residency challenge may or may not be valid.
“Under the election law voters and candidates can have more than one residence, and cases like these have no bright lines. Each case is determined by the facts,” Mr. Goldfeder said.