Result of N.Y. special election still unofficial, even with one candidate now in Congress
By Garance Franke-Ruta
More than a week after a special election in New York's 23rd Congressional District, Democrat Bill Owens has already been sworn into Congress and has already cast a critical vote in helping the House pass the health-care reform bill. Nevertheless, that Upstate New York race may yet hold one final twist.
According to Mark Weiner of The Post-Standard -- your source for all news on Syracuse and Central New York -- the race still has not been certified and Owens's margin of victory over Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman has narrowed sufficiently that absentee ballots will determine whether the announced result stands up.
[John Conklin, communications director for the state Board of Elections] said the state sent a letter to the House Clerk last week explaining that no winner had been determined in the 23rd District, and therefore the state had not certified the election. But the letter noted that Owens still led by about 3,000 votes, and that the special election was not contested -- two factors that legally allowed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to swear in Owens on Friday.
"We sent a letter to the clerk laying out the totals," Conklin said. "The key is that Hoffman conceded, which means the race is not contested. However, all ballots will be counted, and if the result changes, Owens will have to be removed."...
Now Hoffman, who campaigned against the health care reform bill, is carefully watching as the 23rd District race tightens and he is left to wonder if he conceded too soon.
"I don't know if we would have conceded on election night," Rob Ryan, Hoffman's campaign spokesman, said Wednesday while discussing the latest results of the recanvassing. "I'm someone who doesn't like to look back. But would we have taken longer to make a decision on election night? Probably, if we knew it was only 3,000 votes making the difference."
Ryan, while acknowledging that Hoffman's chances of pulling off a come-from-behind victory are still remote, said the campaign is looking at its legal options.
"We're basically watching and waiting," Ryan said. "We've been looking very closely at the recanvass. We're going to see how this week shapes up, and then we're going to determine what to do."
Ryan suggested that absentee ballots were likely to favor Hoffman because most were likely mailed before Republican Dede Scozzafava suspended her campaign three days before the election.
The race was closely watched nationally as a possible bellwether, and for what it revealed about divisions within the Republican Party. Scozzafava, the GOP contender, dropped out the weekend before the Nov. 3 election and endorsed Owens, the Democrat.
November 12, 2009; 11:45 AM ET
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