The letters D.A. usually stand for District Attorney, but maybe it should be Don’t Ask. It seems that once we address one question in this ongoing election saga for Ulster DA, a few more pop up. But, ask we must.
To recap; Early Tuesday Republican candidate Mike Kavanagh announced he would not concede a 79-vote defeat at the hands of Democrat Dave Clegg, the result of a state supreme court judge’s counting of some 280 affidavits from the Nov. 5 election. Kavanagh’s decision triggered a recount of some 52,500 votes cast for the two candidates.
Election law provides for a recount if the margin between candidates is .2 percent or less. In this case, it’s .15 percent. Board of elections officials say the recount of some 320 elections districts could take the final decision well past Jan. 1, when the term of the new district attorney was set to begin.
The question was, who runs the district attorney’s office during a vote-counting period that could extend six weeks into the new year? It won’t be DA Holley Carnright. His term ends at midnight on Dec. 31.
Who’s left? First assistant Mike Kavanagh, that’s who, the very same candidate who forced the recount.
Democrats have gone bonkers over this almost entirely unforeseen consequence, claiming egregious self-interest on Kavanagh’s feathering his own ( $2,000 a week) nest at county expense. County costs estimates for the recount have ranged to $20,000, according to the board of elections.
Again, another question: Would Democrats act any differently if the roles were reversed? In truth, they protest too much. Anybody in Kavanagh’s position, with his career on the line and one last chance to win (barring any court action after the recount) would be a fool not to take this opportunity.
I think some Democrats are beginning to hear footsteps on this one. They went in with a 20,000 voter enrollment advantage on what should have been a slam-dunk and look what’s happening now. Or could happen. It’s almost Trump-like.
As a journalist, I don’t have a horse in this race. But a closely monitored recount would in all probability lock down an official figure, however slender, that all parties will respect.
In the meantime, the district attorney’s office will be supervised by an experienced administrator/prosecutor until the smoke clears. Who could ask for anything more? But that’s just another question.