Absentee ballots keep McCarthy on top

Final Democratic Party vote total is 940 to 835
Schenectady County Board of Elections Commissioners Darlene Harris, left, and Amy Hild review ballots on Friday.
Schenectady County Board of Elections Commissioners Darlene Harris, left, and Amy Hild review ballots on Friday.

SCHENECTADY — With all votes counted from Tuesday’s election, Mayor Gary McCarthy appears to have secured both the Democratic Party and Working Families Party lines on November’s ballot.

The final vote tally for the Democratic primary is 940 to 835 after county Board of Elections officials reviewed outstanding absentee and affidavit ballots on Friday.

McCarthy received 80 absentee votes; Thearse McCalmon, 38.

Out of 126 absentee ballots, seven were placed aside following objections sustained by election commissioners. McCalmon also received 3 affidavit votes compared to 1 for McCarthy. 

With a final Working Families Party vote of 28 to 22, McCarthy appears to have successfully won the line, depriving McCalmon of a place on the ballot in November’s general election.

“I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to continue on as mayor of our great city,” McCarthy said on Friday. The Republicans did not field a candidate for mayor, leaving McCarthy unopposed heading into November’s general election.

McCalmon hasn’t formally conceded, but said she will continue to fight for city issues and will again run for higher office. 

“Concede means I’m going to stop doing,” she said. “I’m not going to stop. They underestimated me, they underestimated what the people want and they better watch their backs.”

McCarthy said late Friday that McCalmon had not called to concede.

Asked if she would challenge the Working Families Party results, McCalmon said her campaign had objections to several ballots and were exploring their options.

“We’re looking to see where to go from there,” McCalmon said.

Absent a late influx of absentee ballots that have been postmarked by the statutory deadline, overturning the outcome appears to be numerically impossible, election officials said. 

The county Board of Elections is expected to certify the results on July 5.

Asked if the party would allocate resources to a legal challenge, Anita Thayer, co-chairwoman of the Capital District Working Family Party chapter, said it’s not something the party discusses with the media.

With a victory of about 5 percentage points, McCarthy said he didn’t consider the race to be close.

But McCalmon’s team said the results reveal a disconnect between the McCarthy administration and voters who care about everyday quality-of-life issues like potholes and blight.

“Only in the Twilight Zone is a two-term incumbent barely able to secure the nomination of his own party a sign that things are going well,” said McCalmon campaign manager Patrick Nelson. 

McCarthy doubled down on Friday that the numbers didn’t reflect widespread discontent with his administration.

In hindsight, he said, he should have pushed back against what he said were misrepresentations by the McCalmon campaign. 

McCalmon contended residents were being priced out of affordable housing projects Hamilton Hill.

But McCarthy countered rent is based on a sliding income scale.

And despite not directly accepting McCalmon’s challenge to debate, he said he accepted the one formal debate invitation presented by an independent organization, a general election event sponsored by The Daily Gazette

“There was just fact-less rhetoric on the other side that in retrospect should have been addressed more aggressively,” McCarthy said. “It’s difficult to run a campaign when the opposition is not based in facts.”

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