Vote Count to Take Several Days in Contested NY Senate Race

Democrat Todd Kaminsky declared victory on Tuesday night, but his rival, Republican Chris McGrath, says the race is too close to call

A final resolution to a pivotal legislative race on Long Island could be days away.

Democrat Todd Kaminsky emerged from Tuesday's special Senate election with a lead of only 780 votes over Republican Chris McGrath. Kaminsky has declared victory, but McGrath says that with 2,700 absentee ballots still to be counted the race is too close to call.

The two men waged aggressive campaigns for the seat, which had been held by ex-GOP Senate Leader Dean Skelos until he was convicted of corruption last year.

County election officials are required to wait a week to count the absentee ballots to ensure they have all arrived.

The outcome will have implications far outside Nassau County, as a Kaminsky win would give Democrats a numeric majority in the Senate. Republicans and Democrats now have 31 seats each, though Republicans control the chamber thanks to the support of six Democrats who crossed their own party line to empower the GOP.

That tenuous agreement could change if Kaminsky hands the Democrats an outright majority. Democrats already hold the executive branch, led by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and the majority of seats in the state Assembly.

In a sign of the race's importance President Barack Obama recorded a phone message sent to voters Monday that cited Kaminsky's support for paid family leave, middle-class tax cuts, school funding and a higher minimum wage. The message went out to voters in the district beginning Monday, the latest indication of just how serious both parties view the race.

Earlier this month, Kaminsky picked up the endorsement of Democratic former President Bill Clinton. And in an unusual victory for a Republican, McGrath last week secured the support of 1199 SEIU, a powerful union of health care workers.

McGrath has said he's the better representative for Long Island. He has sought to tie Kaminsky to Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and has said that if Kaminsky is elected state government could fall under the control of Democratic leaders from New York City.

Kaminsky is a former corruption prosecutor who has campaigned on the need to clean up Albany following the convictions of Skelos and others.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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