Lawyer’s Sickness Delays Keeley’s Primary Results Challenge

Keeley, Phillips
Keeley at a City Council meeting a few months ago.

Former State Rep. Bob Keeley’s quest for a new Democratic primary in the 133rd City Council District after losing by one absentee ballot has been delayed due to his lawyer’s illness. When the votes were counted after polls closed September 12 Keeley was knotted at 170 votes with incumbent Jeanette Herron in the North End. A recount one week later showed her ahead. He filed a state court complaint seeking a reversal or a new primary.

A hearing began Tuesday before Judge Barbara Bellis but Keeley’s lawyer Leonard Caine became ill and was hospitalized. The case has been continued to next week.

If Keeley has standing for a new primary it’s ambitious, given the delay, for the court to schedule it within the confines of the Nov. 7 election calendar. By law absentee ballots, and thus certified candidates names, must be printed and available three weeks before the general election.

Local elections officials will be looking to the court for some direction quickly on how to proceed. The delay also impacts two Republican challengers in the district, Michele Minutolo and Neville De la Rosa.

It’s rare for courts to overturn a vote of the people, even when one vote is involved. But if Keeley’s argument persuades the court it could lead to a new primary vote and general election in the district separate from the established November calendar.

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