UTICA — State Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi could be trading Albany for Washington, D.C. if the slim lead he currently maintains over incumbent Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney holds up.
A heated race became one of the nation’s closest Tuesday night, with Brindisi, D-Utica, unofficially leading Tenney, R-New Hartford, by just 1,422 votes with each of the 565 precincts in New York’s 22nd Congressional District. With absentee ballots yet to be counted and less than 1 percent separating the rivals, Brindisi claimed victory Tuesday night while Tenney refused to concede.
Brindisi earned 117,779 votes, or 49.54 percent of the electorate, as Tenney — who cruised to victory two years ago — received 116,357 votes for 48.94 percent. Tenney won big in Oswego County with nearly 63 percent of the vote compared to 37 percent for Brindisi.
Over the last two year, Tenney closely aligned herself with President Donald Trump, who tweeted in support of Tenney on Monday. Throughout the campaign, Brindisi presented himself as a moderate, independent voice that could bridge the divide in Washington.
Brindisi called it an “emotional” and “special night,” and said the campaign started with a single idea to put working people and the middle class ahead of special interests.
“Now that we are victorious I do want to say that this it not the time to settle scores, this is not time for political retribution,” he said, adding it was time to serve the community in Washington with a bold agenda that puts working people first.
Ensuring people have access to affordable health care, protecting social security and Medicare, tackling student loan debt, fighting for farmers and pushing for ethics and campaign finance reform would be part of that agenda, Brindisi said Tuesday night.
“For these and so many reasons I’m going down to Washington to fight for those who felt left behind by their leaders,” he said. “It’s time to have a friend in Washington who sticks up for working men and women again.”
Brindisi noted there were “a lot of absentee ballots out there” but said “it looks like we’re going to be victorious tonight.”
In her speech late Tuesday, Tenney said it was an “honor and privilege to serve the community.” She told supporters not to be disappointed and said the race was not yet over.
“I’m not going to quit,” she said. “I’m not a quitter that’s one thing you can count on.”
Tenney said she wished Brindisi “the best,” but added that she believed he would “have a struggle down in Washington.” She said there’s been “unprecedented gains” over the last two years and she’s worried about going backward.
“We'd like to thank the voters of this district, our supporters and volunteers for their hard work and dedication throughout this campaign. With over ten thousand absentee ballots left to count, this race is still too close to call,” said Tenney campaign manager Raychel Renna. “Over the next few days and weeks our team will participate in the re-canvass process and review the absentee ballots.”