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Democrat wins close NY senate race

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The Democratic candidate claimed victory Friday by at least 18 votes in a close race for a state Senate seat in upstate New York following the court-ordered count of additional ballots.

Cecilia Tkaczyk said nobody initially believed she could beat Republican Assemblyman George Amedore in the new district that was drawn by Republicans trying to keep control of the chamber.

“The power of good ideas and a strong campaign proved itself,” said Tkaczyk, a school board vice president from Duanesburg who lives on a small farm in rural Schenectady County. A former legislative analyst and labor organizer, she will join Democratic senators “in pursuing the common-sense, progressive agenda that New Yorkers demand,” she said.

Following a judge’s ruling that Amedore was the winner by 37 votes out of some 126,000 ballots cast, a midlevel court ruled 99 challenged ballots should be counted. The state’s highest court refused to hear further appeals, leading to the additional count.

Ulster County Democratic Election Commissioner Victor Work said they opened 90 ballots Friday, counting 69 for Tkaczkyk, 15 for Amedore, 4 blank and two write-ins with other names. With eight votes tallied yesterday in Greene County, Tkaczyk was ahead by 19, with only one left to open in Albany County, he said.

The new district, drawn by Senate Republicans who held a narrow majority last year, included suburban areas south and west of Albany.

Tkaczyk’s win gives enrolled Democrats a 33-30 majority in the Senate, but the Republicans formed a ruling coalition with five breakaway Democrats and a sixth who sits with Republicans. An Amedore spokesman said they won’t challenge it.

“I was supported by the hard-working upstate families who are faced with tremendous challenges in these trying times,” said Amedore, a Schenectady County builder. “The time for politics has ended and the time to govern is at hand.”

Scott Reif, spokesman for the Senate Republican Conference, said that while they are disappointed Amedore fell a few votes short, the outcome of that race doesn’t change anything. “Senate Republicans have already partnered with the Independent Democratic Conference to form a majority coalition that will keep moving this state forward, and we’re off to a great start,” he said.

Michael Murphy, spokesman for the Senate Democratic Conference, said its mandate just got stronger. “We hope that the progressive agenda that the people of New York have demanded is realized. The Senate Democrats reaffirm our commitment to enacting this agenda including moving the economy forward, enacting real campaign finance reform, raising the minimum wage, standing up for women’s health and equality and passing the Dream Act,” which would provide help to college-bound illegal immigrants.

The Senate last week voted 43-18 to approve tighter restrictions on guns, a measure pushed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and approved by the Assembly where Democrats have a large majority. The coalition’s leaders agreed to bring the bill to the Senate floor, where Republicans from Long Island joined with Democrats to approve it.

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