Race To Replace Skelos Too Close To Call

Apr 20, 2016

John Flanagan, majority leader of the New York State Senate, speaks at Chris McGrath headquarters on Long Island, where they asked for a recount.
Credit Joe Ryder / WSHU

The special election to replace former New York Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos of Long Island is too close to call. Skelos was convicted on federal corruption charges last year.

The race centered on which candidate could better reform Albany. Republican Chris McGrath is a personal injury lawyer who calls himself a political outsider. Democrat Todd Kaminsky says, as a former federal prosecutor, he has a plan to end political corruption. As of early Wednesday morning, Kaminsky was leading McGrath by about 800 votes.

McGrath says election workers will have to hand count some 2,500 paper ballots over the next couple of days.

“We expected this to be close,” he said. “It is too close to call tonight. And hopefully when everything is counted, we’re gonna prevail,” McGrath said.

McGrath was endorsed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the powerful labor union for service workers. Kaminsky got last minute support from Democratic President Barack Obama, who made robocalls for him. Still, Kaminsky, currently a state assemblyman, wishes he had more time to campaign.

“My assembly district is a third of the area,” he said. “A lot of people I don’t know, a lot of places I don’t know, so there’s only so much time, especially when you’re in session in Albany to get everywhere.”

The outcome of the race could potentially change leadership in the Senate. A McGrath victory would seal the Republican majority. But if Kaminsky wins, breakaway Democrats could reunite and retake the chamber.