Final result is in — Restler beats Cohn

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Insurgent candidate Lincoln Restler has won the Williamsburg state committee race over Warren Cohn, sending a mini-shockwave through borough political circles and handing an embarrassing defeat to county leader, Vito Lopez.

On Primary Night last week, the results were too close to call, with Restler, a Fort Greene resident and a Community Board 2 member, up by just 19 votes.

But in a week of recounting, plus counting paper and absentee ballots, the final result put Restler up by 120 votes out of 7,158 cast, or 50.8 percent to Cohn’s 49.2 percent.

“This is a tremendous victory for the reform movement in Brooklyn,” Restler said after the final ballot was counted. “I will be a fighter on the state committee to bring transparency, accountability and some real democracy to the Brooklyn Democratic Party.”

Cohn’s campaign manager Noah Marcus said that Cohn, a aide to Rep. Ed Towns (D–Williamsbu­rg), would not challenge the result, which is unofficial until the Board of Elections certifies it next week.

“The race was so close, it’s just a testament to how each side worked,” said Marcus. “We wish Lincoln Restler the best. He worked hard and we did, too.”

Board of Elections workers finished counting about 230 absentee and affidavit ballots on Wednesday afternoon, and it quickly became clear that Restler would outlast Cohn as most of the outstanding ballots were from polling sites that Restler had overwhelmingly won on Election Day.

Once the vote is certified, Restler will replace retiring state committeeman and attorney Steve Cohn, who was the district leader for 27 years.

Cohn heartily endorsed his son in the race, and Lopez, who loses a reliable vote on the county committee, strongly backed Warren Cohn.

Indeed, on Monday, Restler led a mini-revolt against the party leader outside a meeting at which Lopez was re-elected overwhelmingly.

Still, on Wednesday, Restler was magnanimous.

“I wish Warren and the Cohn family well,” said Restler. “They ran their campaign with integrity and I’d like to thank Steve Cohn for his years of service.”

Updated 2:47 pm, October 19, 2011
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