The 41st and 46th Senate District races are a contributing factor to determining if the Democrats will take over the Senate. Terry Gipson leads Sen. Stephen Saland by approximately 1,600 votes and Cecilia Tkaczyk leads Assemblyman George Amedore by only 139 votes. Ballot recounts in those races are under way but it could be weeks before a final count is certified. Photo by AP.
November 13, 2012Absentee ballots will determine the race between Assemblyman George Amedore and Democratic candidate Cecilia Tkaczyk for the 46th Senate District, where, as of press time, Tkaczyk leads by only 139 votes.
Both candidates said they are confident they will take the newly drawn seat, which could ultimately be the deciding factor in which party controls the Senate for the next two years.
Republicans have held a narrow lead in the Senate, and to help maintain control, they fought in court to establish the new seat during the redistricting process this year because its demographics favored a Republican candidate.
Sen. Michael Gianaris, D-Queens, the Senate Democrats' campaign coordinator, said "we knew the 46th Senate District race was going to be competitive," and the Democratic committee was outspent across the state. "We decided to invest in Cecilia because that was a pick-up opportunity and we were proven right," said Gianaris.
According to John Conklin, spokesman for the New York State Board of Elections, there have been more than 8,700 absentee ballots returned so far and he said schedules have been sent out to the individual candidates to let them know when the counting will begin.
Conklin said Schenectady County started on Nov. 9, Greene and Montgomery counties will start today, and Albany and Ulster counties will start tomorrow. Ballots will be accepted as late as Nov. 19.
Conklin said candidates are able to send anyone they want to be their "watcher" during the counting process, but usually candidates send lawyers.
Gianaris said that elections in the battleground districts, referring to the 41st in Dutchess County and 46th Senate districts this time around, are always competitive, but when the ballots have been counted, it will show that New York state voters want a Democratic state.
"We have a team of experts who are already on the ground and [will] make sure every proper vote is counted," said Gianaris in regards to a fair counting process for the 46th Senate District.
With respect to the race for the 41st District, featuring Terry Gipson, Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, and Neil DiCarlo, Gianaris said Democrats are paying close attention and have an attorney monitoring the paper ballot count. According to the Associated Press, 7,000 paper ballots still need to be counted in that race.
"It is going to be near impossible for Saland to make a comeback," said Gianaris.
Gianaris said all corners of the state had Democratic victories, and the people spoke loudly about wanting a Democratic Senate in New York state.
"For [these] Democratic victories, it is very rare there is a mandate that strong and unified [from the people] and that means something," said Gianaris. "I think people want to see a Democratic Senate in the state."
Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans will keep a close eye on the new Senate district as the process of ballot counting begins. Both candidates are publicly maintaining their own victory.
"We must institute safeguards to protect every vote in this process, which may take considerable time. Our campaign team implemented an ambitious absentee program in the early stages of this race," said Kris Thompson, Amedore's spokesman. "We firmly believe that once all the votes have been verified and counted, George Amedore will be the senator representing this five-county district. We will proceed with patience and confidence as this process moves forward."
Tkaczyk, the vice president of the Duanesburg Central School District Board of Education, said she will be taking the seat for the 46th Senate District.
"Following a long and spirited campaign, I am honored to have received the support of so many voters in the 46th Senate District. With 100 percent of polling places reporting, my campaign is ahead of my opponent and I am confident that when all votes are counted I will maintain my lead," said Tkaczyk in a statement. "I look forward to taking my place in the State Legislature this January and I will work full time to represent all residents of the 46th Senate District."