A finish line could be in sight in the race for the 20th Congressional District. With the numbers not looking good for Republican Jim Tedisco, sources tell Capital News 9 that Tedisco could concede to Democrat Scott Murphy as soon as Friday afternoon.
There are less than 1,000 paper ballots unopened, and Democrat Scott Murphy is leading with nearly 400 votes.
County election board workers were in Albany Thursday morning, reviewing a group of 200 votes here. Official numbers will be reported later. On Saturday, 600 ballots were counted in Saratoga County. Those numbers have not been reported yet. All of this leaves about 800 ballots to be opened.
Sounds like the only way Tedisco does not concede tomorrow is if the ballots shift toward him in a really dramatic way in the next 15 hours or so. Doubtful.
The latest numbers out of NY-20 show Democrat Scott Murphy's lead growing steadily. Tedisco was slightly up after election night, but as precincts corrected their counts and absentee ballots have come in, Murphy took the lead on April 10 and has never lost it. Now, after the latest tally of absentee ballots, Murphy is up by 401 votes, a net gain of 6 since yesterday.
Some more absentee ballots were counted in the Murphy strongholds of Columbia, Essex, Warren and Washington Counties -- plus the Tedisco stronghold of Saratoga County. And while Tedisco did net 38 votes from the newest ballots in Saratoga, it was more than outstripped by the other places.
Even before this latest development two former chairs of the NRCC have publicly given up on Tedisco. First Tom Davis:
..."we've lost the New York special election. It's gone."
"For the Democrats, bragging rights are what they are and they get momentum for winning a very tough seat for them," Reynolds said. "And the Republicans will try to minimize it, and when all is said and done, the special will have little or no impact for what will happen in 2010." [...]
"I would say to Jim Tedisco, `You came so close and 2010 is a general election and would be different. If you were up to this race, and want to run, you have earned the right to be a candidate for the party's nomination," Reynolds said.
This latest development should bring more calls for Tedisco to give it up but certainly the Republican is showing no signs of doing so. In fact, Tedisco seems prepared to pull a full Coleman:
Even so, the Tedisco campaign had been sending signals last week that they planned to take legal action to determine the legality of a number of absentee ballots challenged on residency grounds, where there were questions of whether voters were permanent residents of the district.
The judge has asked attorneys for both candidates to prepare briefs on the issue, and an official in the Tedisco campaign told The Washington Times on Friday that "it could be a significant numbers of voters."
Update [2009-4-23 18:22:36 by Todd Beeton]:Speaking of the full Coleman, check out who else got swept up in Tedisco's frivolous ballot challenges: Sam Seder.
Sam posted a message on Twitter yesterday: "NY20th race Tedisco challenged my absentee ballot. 4 days before the election I was jury foreman for a trial in NY20th. Challenge Fail." [...]
Sam was none too impressed when I told him that the Tedisco campaign alleged that he wasn't a resident of the district. "Jerks," he said. "I mean, I could tell you I've attended far more Livingston town meetings than Jim Tedisco has."
He added: "I just think it's ironic that this guy doesn't live in the 20th, and he's challenging my residency."
Up in NY-20, much as in Minnesota, the Republican attempts at cherry picking which ballots should count and which should not has gotten pretty out of hand. First they went after those insidious college students. You won't be surprised to learn that in their defense, they're invoking the f-word (via TAP):
The Tedisco campaign is now also challenging ballots of students who come from outside the 20th Congressional District, many of whom attend Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs.
Yesterday, Republicans began objecting systematically to absentee ballots cast by voters who maintain second homes in some of the southern parts of the district, and Saratoga County Democratic Chairman Larry Bulman called late last night to say that several of the student ballots were being challenged on grounds that the students improperly claimed residency within the district.
"It's ridiculous-these same students voted with no problem in November," Bulman said. He did not have a specific number of student ballots that were challenged.
James Walsh, an attorney representing Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, said yesterday, "What we're doing is trying to prevent fraud."
This is getting out of control. Word from Columbia County is that when US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's absentee ballot came up to be counted, the Tedisco camp objected. No, really. I am not making that up. Why on earth would they object to a legal resident of the district's ballot? A legal resident, not to metion FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN REPRESENTING NY-20 AND CURRENT SITTING SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK?
This just in from Columbia County: when Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's absentee ballot came up in the queue, the poll watchers for Jim Tedisco objected to it, saying the senator was in the county on election day and should have voted in person.
Democracy by loophole: it's the Republican way.
It should be noted that this is all happening as Scott Murphy expands his lead to 56 votes.
Update [2009-4-14 17:36:52 by Todd Beeton]:Statement from Senator Gillibrand's office (via e-mail):
The Republicans challenge is frivolous and without merit. This is part of their larger attempt to disenfranchise legal Democratic voters and delay the inevitable Democratic victory in the 20th. Every day that the national Republicans waste with their dishonest stalling tactics is another day Upstate New Yorkers are deprived their Member of Congress. Senator Gillibrand looks forward to working with Scott Murphy in Congress to support President Obama plans to turn this economy around and create good paying jobs.
NYS election law says that an elector must intend to be out of the COUNTY on Election Day when the elector submits the absentee ballot or requests the application.
Senator Gillibrand requested and completed an absentee ballot because she did not expect to be able to vote at her polling location since votes were scheduled in the Senate that day. Furthermore, Republican claims that she was in the county are false. She was not in Columbia County on Election Day.
Eric Kleefeld has been following the NY-20 results closely and reports that the latest count, a few days into counting domestic absentee ballots, shows Scott Murphy up by 46 votes. Foreign and military absentees have until Monday to arrive and so there will be plenty more counting next week. In the meantime though, it's good to see Team Tedisco living up to the tradition of Republicans behind in close races: just challenge votes you don't like (via TAP).
Washington attorney and former President Reagan White House counsel David Nolan has been acting as a volunteer attorney for the Tedisco campaign, and says though the numbers are currently going in Murphy's favor, the Democrat has not widened the gap enough in the county to pull out a victory in the entire 20th District.
"How I see it, is that Columbia County is make or break," Nolan said Thursday night. "I think we are over the top and have weathered the storm."
Nolan says the republicans have been making most of the challenges over the past two days and the majority have been related to ballots from people who are registered to vote in Columbia County but whose driver's licenses state that they live in New York City.
Challenging perfectly legal votes of folks who live in New York City but vote absentee in NY-20...hmm, why ever would they do that?