Messinger appears to have the votes to prevent a runoff with Sharpton


NEW YORK -- The Democratic mayoral primary headed for an interim but muddied conclusion last night as the Board of Elections said that Ruth Messinger appeared to have broken the 40 percent barrier, though by fewer than 1,000 votes, and would not have to face the Rev. Al Sharpton in a runoff.

Sharpton said he would file suit this morning in state and federal courts to force the board to reinstate the runoff.

As of 8: 30 last night, Messinger, according to a still unofficial count, had 40.17 percent of the 410,773 votes that had been tallied, 729 more than the 40 percent threshold. There were 1,972 absentee and other paper ballots left to be counted, all in Brooklyn.

If this tentative count holds, it will end primary election that began Sept. 9.

Sharpton, anxious not to be seen as acting to undermine Messinger if she does become her party's nominee against Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, said that his lawsuits would charge that the Board of Elections was so inept that it had effectively disfranchised his supporters, who were seeking to help him become New York's second black mayor.

Messinger had no response last night, saying through a spokesman that she would not comment until there was a final tally.

Pub Date: 9/18/97

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