Kaminsky Claims Victory in Close Race for Skelos’ Seat; McGrath Not Conceding

Todd Kaminsky, Chris McGrath and Lawrence Seth Hirsh
From left: Todd Kaminsky, Chris McGrath and Lawrence Seth Hirsh

Democrat Todd Kaminsky declared victory in Tuesday’s special election for a New York State Senate seat that could sway the balance of power in the chamber, but Republican Christopher McGrath hasn’t conceded.

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Kaminsky, a freshman state Assemblyman and former federal prosecutor from Long Beach, leads McGrath, an attorney and first-time candidate from Hewlett, by 780 votes, according to unofficial results tallied by the Nassau County Board of Elections. If confirmed, a Kaminsky win could give state Senate Democrats a majority for the first time since 2009—although that also hinges on whether a handful of breakaway Democrats who caucus with Republicans rejoin their party.

“They got close but they didn’t get close enough,” Kaminsky told a crowd of cheering supporters at The Park, a bar in Long Beach, two hours after the polls closed Tuesday night.

The special election in the ninth State Senate district, which covers southwestern Nassau County, is to fill the seat vacated by Dean Skelos, the former state Senate Republican majority leader, who was expelled from office upon his conviction on federal corruption charges in December. Skelos and his son, Adam, who was also convicted, are appealing.

Kaminsky touted his prosecutorial credentials as giving him the experience needed to bring ethics reform to the State Legislature. McGrath countered that he would keep the State Senate in Republican control, thereby not ceding power to New York City Democrats, who, McGrath said, want to raise taxes on Long Island.

McGrath’s campaign maintains that he still has a chance to win once absentee and other paper ballots are counted.

“This race is too close to call,” he said in a statement. “It will not be decided tonight. All the votes will have to be counted in the coming days.”

Of the 68,324 votes cast, Kaminsky won 33,978, just shy of 50 percent. McGrath won 33,198, or just under 49 percent. Laurence Seth Hirsh, an accountant from Valley Stream running on the Green Party line, came in third place with 772 votes, or 1 percent. There were also 56 write-ins.

Kaminsky and McGrath each also had several minor-party lines. Kaminsky also had the endorsement of the Working Families Party and the Women’s Equality Party. McGrath was additionally running on the Conservative Party, Independence Party, Tax Revolt Party and Reform Party lines.

The party affiliations of the voters whose absentee ballots are being counted in the race include 1,318 Democrats, 1,169 Republicans, 26 Conservatives and 206 unaffiliated voters.