Making a comeback bid, disgraced ex-Congressman Vito Fossella was locked in a battle for first place with Councilman Steven Matteo on Tuesday night in the Republican primary for Staten Island borough president, according to unofficial election results.
With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Fossella captured 42 percent or 7,407 votes to 41 percent or 7,196 votes for Matteo — a slim lead of 211 votes.
Leticia Remauro, a former Staten Island Republican chairwoman who served in Gov. George Pataki’s administration, received 13.5 percent or 2,321 votes and businessman Jhong Kim got 3 percent or 454 votes.
With ranked choice voting, Remauro and Kim’s second choices could determine the outcome, along with uncounted absentee ballots.
Fossella’s comeback bid for public office comes 12 years after he opted not to seek a seventh term for Congress following a drunk-driving bust in Virginia revealed he was quietly keeping a second family.
A former city councilman, Fossella, 56, was first elected to Congress in 1997. The married father became the most powerful Republican figure in Staten Island politics before he admitted having an affair and a love child.
He reconciled with his wife, Mary Pat.
Fossella came out of political exile and announced his candidacy in March, just before the filing deadline to get on the ballot — shaking up the race.
The Staten Island Republican Party endorsed Matteo before Fossella entered the race. The Conservative Party backed Remauro.
Fossella was buoyed by late endorsements from former President Donald Trump and ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
In other borough president races:
Democratic incumbent Donovan Richards faced a surprisingly strong challenge from ex-Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley. With more than 95 percent of precincts reporting, Richards was in the lead by just 2,121 votes over Crowley, with 64,754 votes or 41 percent to 62,633 or 40 percent for Crowley.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer garnered 18 percent or 27,781 votes. Van Bramer’s second choices in ranked-choice voting could determine the victor.
Richards first won the seat in a special election last year after his predecessor, Melinda Katz, was elected district attorney.
A total of 12 candidates ran in the borough president’s race to succeed mayoral candidate Eric Adams. Councilman Antonio Reynoso was in the lead with 28 percent or 62,618 votes to 19 percent (41,342 votes) for Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr. and 18 percent for Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon. Ranked-choice voting that factors in the second choices of other candidates will help determine the outcome.
In the race to succeed term-limited Borough President Gale Brewer, Councilman Mark Levine led state Sen. Brad Hoylman with 29 percent of the vote or 57,137 votes to 26 percent or 51,289. votes. Councilman Ben Kallos received 12 percent (24,357 votes) and Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo administration official who accused the governor of sexual harassment, ten percent (20,796 voters).
In The Bronx race to succeed term-limited Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr, Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson was in first place with 39 percent or 33,032 votes followed by Councilman Fernando Cabrera with 34 percent or 28,835 votes.
Assemblyman Nathalia Fernandez took 14 percent or 11,969 votes and state Sen. Luis Sepulveda received 10 percent or 8,318 votes, which means their second choices could determine the victor.
In the Democratic primary for borough president, Mark Murphy was in the driver’s seat with 46 percent or 10,920 votes more than double the 21 percent or 4,994 votes for second place finisher Loraine Honor.
A Democratic hasn’t won an election for island borough president in four decades.