Democrats claim victory in strange special election

 Republican Lucinda Little and Democrat Emilio Vasquez battled in a special state house election yesterday. (Dave Davies / WHYY)

Republican Lucinda Little and Democrat Emilio Vasquez battled in a special state house election yesterday. (Dave Davies / WHYY)

Democrats appear to have held on to a north Philadelphia state house seat in an unusual special election yesterday.

The election followed the resignation of Democratic State Rep. Leslie Acosta, who resigned after pleading guilty to money laundering.A residency problem knocked the original Democrat, Frederick Ramirez, out of the race, leaving Republican Lucinda Little as the only candidate on the ballot.Democrat Emilio Vasquez and Green Party candidate Cheri Honkala waged vigorous write-in campaigns.The count last night showed there were more than 10 times as many write-ins as votes for the Republican, but the write-ins won’t been tallied by name until Friday.Vasquez says he won most of them.”I’m prepared to say I’m confident I’m the winner,” Vasquez said in a phone interview last night.Honkala is not conceding the election, saying the balloting was marred by numerous irregularities.”It took me over an hour to vote myself this morning.” Honkala said in a statement. “First, the machines weren’t turned on. I’ve personally seen a Democratic ward leader repeatedly going in and out of the polling place, touching the machines, and God knows what else.”Honkala campaign spokesman Matthew Zawisky said the problems at polling places may result in legal action.Ivan Soltero, Little’s campaign manager, said it’s apparent she didn’t win.”The numbers are not in our favor, but we did run ahead of Republican registration in the district,” he said. “This is a district that’s often forgotten. The winner is typically decided in the Democratic primary, so the that fact that the voters got this much attention is a win for us.”Working the polls yesterday, Little noted that the last two Democratic representatives from the district resigned after being found guilty of corruption charges.Vasquez said that’s no reflection on him.”I can’t take responsibility for what others have done in the past. The only thing I want to talk about is the present,” Vasquez said. “You know, we need to get more education, open more mental health, open more schools, and that’s what I’m talking about.”

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