The race for the Democratic Nomination for the 23rd Congressional District – which includes Chautauqua County – is too close to call.
That after the Primary Day totals were reported following yesterday’s vote. Of the five candidates seeking the party’s nomination, both retired Air Force officer Max Della Pia and educator and college administrator Tracy Mitrano are within 26 votes of each other, with Della Pia receiving a reported 7,022 votes while Mitrano received 6,996 votes.
Combined the two received nearly 65 percent of all votes from Primary Day.
“I set out to run for Congress with one goal: to amplify the voices of the people of New York’s 23rd District. Tonight, we took a major step towards achieving that goal. I am honored by the trust so many people have placed in our campaign over the last year. From volunteers to voters, it was a community of dedicated citizens that made this result possible,” Della Pia said in a media release following the results being announced on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, with the race being too close to call, Mitrano released her own statement Tuesday night. “At the moment, the race is too close to call. There are people hard at work across the district to count each and every vote, including absentee ballots. Every person who voted in this election deserves to have their vote count,” she said.
Mitrano stressed unity to go against Congressman Reed in November, “The supporters of our campaign, as well as the supporters of Max, Ian, Linda’s and Eddie’s campaign are a formidable force.”
The next highest vote-getter was cardiologist Linda Andrei, who received 3,330 votes, followed by Ithaca business owner Ian Golden who received 2,918 votes. Jamestown Attorney Eddie Sundquist finished with 1,395 votes.
“I’m grateful for the many conversations and dialogues I had with voters across NY-23 over the past year, and I sincerely hope that we are heading toward change,” Golden said after conceding the primary on Tuesday night. “I’m committed to doing everything I can to help the winner advance the Democratic campaign and continue the fight for better representation for all of NY-23 come November.”
A total of 21,716 votes were cast, which is about 17 percent of the total number of registered Democrats across the district. That’s significantly higher than in 2012, the last time a Democratic Congressional Primary was held in the 23rd. In that primary the total turnout was just 10,265.
“The high turnout in today’s primary makes one thing clear: there is something special happening in our district. From forums to rallies, in libraries and storefronts, people across this district have been demanding to have their voices heard,” Della Pia said. “[Republican incumbent] Tom Reed has made a political career out of misleading his constituents and overlooking their interests. Tonight, we took a huge step towards holding him accountable.”
Election officials will have to tally all absentee and any qualified affidavit ballots before a winner of the Democratic Primary can be announced.
“We look forward to having the results certified by the Board of Elections, and are excited to have every voice heard,” Della Pia said.
Meanwhile, there was also an opportunity to ballot primary for the Women’s Equality Party (WEP). Mitrano was the only name to appear on the ballot, but there was an effort to force an opportunity to ballot race in which any of the 136 registered WEP members in the district would be able to write-in another candidate if they so choose.
However, it appears on three of those party members showed up to vote, with all three casting a vote for Mitrano. There were no reported write-ins.
Mitrano is also the candidate for the Working Families Party.
If Della Pia holds on to his slim lead over Mitrano in the Democratic Primary, Mitrano will be faced with the decision of keeping her name on the ballot under the WEP and Working Families line, or withdrawing in order to give Della Pia a better chance in the General Election against entrenched incumbent, Republican Tom Reed.
During a meet the candidates forum in Mayville in May, Mitrano would not commit to saying whether or not she would remove her name from the ballot if she didn’t win the Democratic Primary and instead said it was something she would have to think about if and when the time comes.
Tuesday night, Mitrano stressed unity to go against Congressman Reed in November. “The supporters of our campaign, as well as the supporters of Max, Ian, Linda’s and Eddie’s campaign are a formidable force,” she said.