Democrat Jackie Gordon conceded to Republican Andrew Garbarino in a closely watched battle to succeed a longtime GOP congressman in a swing district on Long Island’s South Shore.
Garbarino, a four-term state assemblyman, will replace U.S. Rep. Peter King in New York’s 2nd Congressional District.
The 36-year-old Republican built a comfortable lead on Election Day, and Gordon conceded on Wednesday in a statement posted on Facebook. The Associated Press has not declared a winner because of a large number of absentee ballots cast in the race.
“I am deeply humbled by the support and encouragement we have received from voters who share our vision,” Gordon said in the statement. “Although we were not victorious, this race was historic for so many reasons.”
King, 76, announced last year that would retire in January after 28 years in office rather than stand for reelection in the increasingly diverse, Democratic-leaning district.
A lifelong Long Islander, Garbarino has portrayed himself as a natural successor to King and was often accompanied by the retiring lawmaker on the campaign trail. He’s the son of a local party leader and runs a small law firm.
In a district that’s home to many police officers, Garbarino underscored his strong support for law enforcement. He aired TV commercials featuring the slogan “back the blue,” was endorsed by the region’s major police unions and suggested that Gordon wound defund police, which she denied.
Gordon emigrated to New York from Jamaica when she was 7. She served in the U.S. Army Reserves as a military police officer for 29 years, fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and retired in 2014 as a lieutenant colonel. She was also a school guidance counselor and served on the Babylon Town Council for 12 years.
At a candidate forum, Garbarino said he would push to nationalize the police training and standards used in New York City and on Long Island.
Garbarino also highlighted his track record of working with Democrats, who hold the majority in Albany, to secure funding for projects in his district.
In Congress, Garbarino said he would push for a new infrastructure spending bill, relief for small businesses battered by coronavirus and environmental protections for the island’s waterways.
On an issue that hit close to home for highly taxed Long Islanders, Gordon and Garbarino agreed that the Trump administration’s $10,000 cap on deducting state and local taxes from federal income taxes should be scrapped.
King was one of 40 House incumbents who didn’t appear on the ballot for reeelection this year.
His impending retirement set off a scramble for control of the district. The race attracted millions of dollars in outside spending and appearances from big-name politicians like GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy, who attended a Garbarino fundraiser last month.
National Democratic and Republican committees and other groups spent more than $10 million on the race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, mostly on attack ads.
Democrats hold a slight registration edge in the district, but voters there supported President Donald Trump in 2016. King won his last election in 2018 by about 15,000 votes, his smallest margin of victory as an incumbent.
In another part of the state, Democrats were the celebrating party as Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney won reelection in a battleground district in the Hudson Valley. Maloney will be returning for his fifth term.
The Democrat defeated Republican challenger Chele Farley, who was making her second bid to go to Washington. She also ran for the U.S. Senate in 2018, losing to Kirsten Gillibrand.
The race was too tight to decide on Election Day, but The Associated Press declared Maloney the winner Thursday after an analysis of absentee ballots determined Farley couldn’t overcome Maloney’s lead.
New York’s 18th Congressional District is one of the just a few in the U.S. where voters favored President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, but picked a Democrat to represent them in Congress. Maloney was New York’s first openly gay member of Congress when he was first elected in 2012.