By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank Republicans blasted incumbent Councilman Mike DuPont as a “sore loser” Thursday for seeking a recount of his apparent two-vote loss in last week’s election.
DuPont is scheduled to appear before a judge in Superior Court in Freehold Friday on his petition for a recount, which Republicans say would constitute an “unprecedented” fourth counting of votes from the November 3 squeaker.
The still-unofficial tally shows that DuPont lost his bid for a fourth three-year term to 24-year-old political newcomer Mike Whelan, 967 votes to 965. Whelan running mate Mark Taylor led all four candidates for the two open council seats with 1,033 votes. DuPont running mate Mike Ballard was fourth, with 934. Ballard conceded defeat on election night.
Those figures include 24 provisional ballots, some of which were at first disallowed but were later allowed after consultation with the state Attorney General’s office on Monday, according to the Monmouth County Board of Elections.
In a press release headlined “DuPont is a Sore Loser, Continuing to Impede Red Bank’s Progress,” Taylor says DuPont “is desperately clinging to the hope that somehow recounting the votes – yet again – will change the fact that the residents of Red Bank have spoken in favor of change.”
Also in the statement, local GOP Chairman Sean Di Somma said it is DuPont’s choice as to whether he wants his legacy to be that of “a public servant who served the people for almost a decade” or “a slick liberal lawyer & desperate politician who was washed out of office by two men nearly 30 years his junior and as a sore loser who didn’t know when to quit.”
Whelan was not quoted in the statement.
DuPont told redbankgreen that he hadn’t seen the release and said he had no intention of “calling my opponents names.” He said he felt it “incumbent” that he pursue a recount in light of the closeness of the race.
DuPont, who had 15 days after the election to seek a recount, has already filed a petition for one and is expected to appear in court late Friday morning on the request.
Such requests are normally granted, said Bruce Padula, a lawyer and Fair Haven resident who serves as counsel to the Monmouth County GOP. He said he did not yet know if either the county or Red Bank Republicans would formally object to the recount petition, though he said DuPont’s included “speculation” about counting errors without providing any evidence.
If DuPont’s request is granted, the recount by the Board of Elections would be conducted in public, just as the counting of provisionals was on Monday, said Padula.
If upheld, a Whelan win would give the GOP majority control of the council for first time since 1989.
Taylor, 32, and Whelan would join Republicans Cindy Burnham, who broke a seven-year Democratic lock on the governing body in 2013, and Linda Schwabenbauer, who won a year ago.
Here’s the full GOP statement:
Outgoing 3-term politician, Councilman Michael DuPont, has said publicly that he will be filing for a recount in this election. After the votes were counted on election day, DuPont lost. After votes were counted again to include provisional ballots, DuPont lost. After everyone, including myself, left the Board of Elections on Monday, the votes were re-counted with new guidance provided by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office. Once all Republican challengers and officials left and could not object, additional provisional ballots were counted and DuPont lost for a third time. Despite statements made on election night, when Ed McKenna conceded, “we lost both seats” and DuPont’s running mate Michael Ballard said, “we are not going to be sore losers,” Michael DuPont would now like the votes counted for a fourth time.
Mr. DuPont is a politician whose time has passed and yet he is desperately clinging to the hope that somehow recounting the votes – yet again – will change the fact that the residents of Red Bank have spoken in favor of change. The residents of Red Bank have been clamoring for change for years now as political newcomers have been the top vote getters three straight years by steadily increasing margins.
The election has passed, we’ve celebrated Veterans Day and families are now turning their sights to Thanksgiving preparations. Enough is enough, it’s time for Michael DuPont to finally start listening to the residents of Red Bank and concede the election.
Red Bank GOP Chairman Sean Di Somma added the following statement:
It is pretty sad that a nearly liberal lawyer and career politician is continuing to try to make 2+2=5. He tried it for many years on the council and has been rejected by voters three times under three different sets of counting rules. He is now pushing for an UNPRECEDENTED hand recount of absentee ballots. This has never happened before and opens the ballots up to human error and the all too inaccurate game of determining “voter intent”.
Mr. DuPont claims he is pushing for voter enfranchisement, the reality is that he is simply using that as an excuse to cry about the clear outcome of the election.
Quite frankly, Mr. DuPont can be remembered by Red Bank as a public servant who served the people for almost a decade OR Mr. DuPont can be remembered as a slick liberal lawyer & desperate politician who was washed out of office by two men nearly 30 years his junior and as a sore loser who didn’t know when to quit. At this point, it is up to Mr. DuPont to decide what his legacy will be. I hope he explores his conscience and makes the right decision so Red Bank can move on with the change they voted for.