The contest between GOP Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco and Democratic venture capitalist Scott Murphy was too close to call after Tuesday's special election, leaving thousands of absentee ballots to determine the outcome of the race in the coming weeks.
The unofficial tally on the evening of Tuesday, March 31, showed Murphy in the lead by just 59 votes, 77,344 to 77,285.
The earliest that the election will be decided is April 13, when overseas and military absentee ballots are due to county boards of elections. According to state Board of Elections spokesman Bob Brehm, 10,159 absentee ballots were issued, and 6,316 of those had been received by the end of Tuesday.
If the race remains tight, a recount will almost certainly follow, as the state Republican Committee has already obtained a court order to impound all paper ballots, and the process could stretch on even longer.
There is a court order to impound in the district, so it all depends on how long the process takes, said Brehm.
Despite the incredibly close race, both sides said they had confidence that a tally of absentee ballots will leave their candidate victorious. Though neither claimed victory or conceded defeat, they both gave upbeat speeches to their supporters on Tuesday night.
"They all said it couldn't be done, but the people in this room and the voters of the 20th Congressional District said something different," said Murphy from the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Spa State Park.
"I believe that when the smoke clears, we will have won a tremendous victory," said Tedisco, who watched the results from the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs. "It has been said in the slogan of the last campaign, 'yes we can,' but now we will."
Murphy's camp did savor the swagger afforded by their lead " however slight " on Tuesday night. That contingent included Gov. David Paterson, who made an appearance later in the evening.