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King has solid lead in Lewis judge race

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LOWVILLE — A King will be Lewis County’s next judge, unless absentee and affidavit votes counteract his election-night lead.

Republican Daniel R. King led Democrat Kevin M. McArdle by 246 votes, 4,905 to 4,659, after election-day ballots had been tallied, according to unofficial results from the Lewis County Board of Elections. That’s 51.3 percent of the vote.

However, there were 909 absentee ballots issued countywide for the general election, and 755 had been returned as of Tuesday. County election officials said a large number of affidavit votes also was cast, although they did not have an exact figure.

They tentatively plan to begin counting absentee and affidavit ballots Nov. 15.

Mr. King and Mr. McArdle are vying for a 10-year seat on the Lewis County bench, which also covers Family and Surrogate courts.

“I just want to thank everyone for their support,” Mr. King said in a short speech during his election-night party at Jeb’s Restaurant.

While introduced as “Judge King” after final vote totals came in, the former long-time public defender, who now operates a private practice in Lowville, acknowledged that victory was not yet assured because of the large number of absentee ballots.

However, he said, “we’re going to walk away positive” because of the strong showing.

“I’m very proud of the campaign we ran, and I’m very grateful for all the supporters that came out across the county,” Mr. McArdle said at his party at the nearby American Legion post.

The court attorney for state Supreme Court Justice Charles C. Merrell still has not abandoned hope of following in Judge Merrell’s shoes.

“The race is not over,” Mr. McArdle said. “We eagerly await the results of the counting of the absentee ballots.”

If Mr. King holds on to win the race, he would be the second judge in his family. His late father, Robert A., served as Lowville village justice for 32 years and also had a stint as mayor.

Mr. King appeared on the Republican, Independence and Conservative lines, having defeated Mr. McArdle in the two minor-party primaries in September, while Mr. McArdle was on the Democratic and independent lines.

The Lewis County judgeship has been vacant since Jan. 1, when Judge Merrell moved from that position to state Supreme Court.

Mr. King began working here in 1993, both in private practice and as assistant to then-Public Defender Joanne K. Smith. He subsequently served as public defender from 2002 through February 2009, when he stepped down to focus on his practice and spend time with his family. He has continued to do some work in criminal and family courts over the past few years.

Mr. McArdle, who grew up in Seneca County, has spent the past nine years conducting legal research for Judge Merrell. He moved to Lowville in 1982 to serve as confidential law clerk for Judge J. Robert Lynch, and later served under judges John S. Parker and the late Nathaniel B. Merrell, as well.

Mr. McArdle also was county attorney from 1994 to 2002, represented nine towns and two villages as their municipal attorney and operated a private law practice here.

Johnson Newspapers reporter Christina Scanlon contributed to this report.

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