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Democratic primary elections Tuesday produced two startling upsets in races for legal positions. In Albany County, an insurgent, R. David Soares, defeated incumbent District Attorney Paul A. Klein almost 2 to 1. And in a countywide race for the Civil Court in the Bronx, the law chairman of the Conservative Party defeated the candidate backed by the Democratic county organization. In the Bronx, John H. Wilson, a former assistant district attorney and now a solo practitioner, defeated Marc Whiten, of Armienti, DeBellis & Whiten, 20,886 to 19,033, a difference of 4.6 percent of the votes cast. Under state law, in a contest for a judgeship, the candidate of one party can run in the primary of another without the consent of that party’s leadership.
Tuesday’s Results
Number Of Votes
Bronx County (Countywide)
Marc Whiten 19,033
John H. Wilson 20,886
Brooklyn (Countywide) Three Vacancies
Johnny Lee Baynes 24,941
Joanne Minsky Cohen 20,270
Harley D. Diamond 20,106
Gerald Dunbar 23,054
Charles Finkelstein 21,197
Richard Izzo 13,744
Evelyn J. La Porte 28,627
Sol Needle 7,182
April A. Newbauer 19,866
Brooklyn (2nd District)
Geraldine Pickett 4,387
Robin K. Shears 2,836
Brooklyn (6th District)
Maxine L. Archer 4,147
Pamela Elisofon 2,299
Bernard J. Graham 5,386
Ingrid Joseph 4,526
SOURCE: Board of Elections

The only other Civil Court primaries were in Brooklyn, where there were three countywide openings and two district races. Out of a field of eight active candidates, the three winners in the countywide contest were Evelyn C. LaPorte, an assistant district attorney, with 28,627 votes; Housing Court Judge Johnny Lee Baynes, 24,941; and Gerald Dunbar, a civil litigator, 23,054. Geraldine Pickett, a solo practitioner won in District 2, which covers Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Green, Clinton and Brownsville. The victor in a four-way contest in District 6, which encompasses Park Slope and Crown Heights, was Bernard J. Graham, a private practitioner and long-time civic activist in Park Slope. Opposition to the Rockefeller-era drug laws played a key role in Mr. Soares upset victory in Albany over Mr. Klein, who was seeking a second term, according to Assemblyman John J. McEneny, one of the few political figures in the area to back Mr. Soares. Mr. Soares rolled up large margins throughout Albany County, winning 14,030 to 8,684, Mr. McEneny said. In the Bronx race, the victory of the Conservative Party lawyer, Mr. Wilson, came as a surprise to the borough’s Democratic leadership, its chief of staff, Ululy Martinez, acknowledged. The “biggest factor” in Mr. Wilson’s victory, Mr. Martinez said, was his last name. Even though Mr. Wilson is white, voters might have thought he is black, Mr. Martinez explained, noting that there is a large black population in the Bronx. Recognition of a name as likely belonging to a black candidate also played a role in the Brooklyn countywide contest, a political expert said. Judge Baynes, who is black, had the most identifiably black name in the field, and Mr. Dunbar, who is Irish, had a name that could be taken as belonging to a black, the expert said. Robert Liff, a spokesman for the Brooklyn Democratic Party, said that in recent years both the demographics and voting patterns in Brooklyn had shifted to favor blacks in countywide primaries because of the low visibility of judicial contests. Ten years ago, Jewish women would have had a large advantage in a countywide race but that advantage has now shifted, although not as dramatically, to black candidates, he said. In addition, in this year’s race, Mr. Liff said, other primaries in a number of black neighborhoods stimulated voter turnout. In particular, Mr. Liff pointed to the fact that U.S. Representative Major Owens had to fend off four challengers to win renomination in a district that covers many black neighborhoods. Mr. Dunbar benefited as well from years of political involvement and election law work that had won him the support of many politicians throughout the borough, insiders said. An endorsement by the New York Times also helped him, they said. Ms. LaPorte, who worked in the domestic-violence unit of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, also won the Times’ endorsement. Ms. LaPorte, who is Puerto Rican, has said that she was running as “a black Latina.” Defeat for Coalition The three candidates backed by a coalition put together by lawyer Alan Rocoff were defeated: Charles Finkelstein and Richard A. Izzo, both general practitioners, and Joanne Minsky Cohen, who is law secretary to Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Bert A. Bunyan. Mr. Rocoff has close political ties to Justice Michael A. Garson, who is being investigated by the Brooklyn district attorney for mishandling the funds of an elderly aunt. Mr. Rocoff’s coalition also sponsored approximately 60 candidates to be delegates at the party’s judicial convention, which will meet later this month to select the Democratic Party’s Supreme Court candidates. There are 125 delegates at the convention (NYLJ, Aug. 10). Of the 60 candidates, only 16 survived petition challenges and were on Tuesday’s ballot. Five of those candidates won seats at the convention, but three faced no opposition. Mr. Rocoff could not be reached for comment yesterday. Mr. Graham won in the four-way race in a district that is fairly evenly divided between black and white communities, said Alan Fleischman, a Democratic leader in Park Slope and one of the victor’s backers. Mr. Graham, who is white, started with a broad base of support among both black and white politicians because of his civic work, Mr. Fleischman said. But the fact that the black vote in the district was divided between two black candidates � former Civil Court Judge Maxine Archer and Ingrid Joseph, who is law secretary to Brooklyn Justice Mark I. Partnow � was also significant, Mr. Fleischman said. Similarly, he attributed Mr. Graham’s victory to the inability of the other white candidate, solo practitioner Pamela Elisofon, “to make a serious dent in the white vote.” Win on Third Try Race did not appear to be a factor in the District 2 race, which involved two black candidates in an overwhelmingly black district. Ms. Pickett defeated Robin Kelly Shears, law secretary to Brooklyn Justice Deborah A. Dowling, 4,387 to 2,836. It was Ms. Pickett’s third race for a Civil Court seat in the district. City Councilman Charles Barron, who backed Ms. Pickett in all three races, said this time was different because the candidate had organized enough community support to command the backing of major political figures in the district. Ms. Pickett had the support of Councilman Al Vann, Assemblywoman Annette Robinson and Congressman Edolphus Townes, he said. � Daniel Wise can be reached at [email protected] .

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