CAPITAL REGION — After a Primary Day in which voters and election officials faced unprecedented challenges and only a handful of party nominations were at stake, results were slow to trickle in Tuesday night — and some outcomes may not be known for days.
Early results in races of local interest Tuesday night showed Thearse McCalmon of Schenectady solidly leading the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent state Sen. James Tedisco this fall, while the GOP primary in the 19th Congressional District was too close to call, given the hundreds of absentee ballots outstanding.
With fear about coronavirus pandemic lingering, the state Board of Elections said there were about 1.7 million requests for absentee ballots this year — more than 10 times the number requested in the last presidential primary year, in 2016. Those ballots could be postmarked as late as Tuesday, and unopened ballots won’t be counted for about 10 days.
Those who voted in person were expected to wear face masks and agree to other precautions to prevent polling places from becoming places that spread the virus. Turnout was expected to be light, but there was confusion at some polling places, with two in Schenectady for part of the day not distributing state Senate primary ballots.
The biggest primary — at least in theory — was the Democratic presidential primary between former vice president Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I- Vermont, and nine other former candidates. Biden won handily.
With Biden already having won the nomination and the New York state primary already having been postponed from April because of the pandemic, state officials planned to cancel the presidential primary, but it was re-established after Sanders’ supporters successfully challenged the cancellation in court.
In addition to the presidential primary, Capital Region races included one in the 19th Congressional District, where two candidates from Dutchess County were competing for the Republican nomination to run against incumbent freshman U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck. The 19th District includes Schoharie County and western Montgomery County.
The candidates there were lawyer Kyle Van De Water of Millbrook and fashion designer Ola Hawatmeh of Pleasant Valley. With 80 percent of districts reporting, Hawatmeh led by just over 300 votes.
In the 49th state Senate District, McCalmon and Donovan McRae of Schenectady were competing for the Democratic nomination to face entrenched incumbent Tedisco, R-Glenville, in November. That district stretches from Schenectady County through part of Saratoga County to Fulton County and the central Adirondacks.
With about 30 percent of districts reporting at 11 p.m., McCalmon had 63 percent of the vote, to 26 percent for McRae.
In Montgomery County, unofficial vote totals showed challenger Lorraine Diamond has opened up a 142-vote lead in the Republican Party primary for Montgomery County district attorney over incumbent Kelli McCoski.
Of the 630 in-person votes cast, Diamond received 386 to McCoski’s 244, according to the unofficial totals posted to the Montgomery County Board of Elections website. Approximately 670 absentee votes will still need to be counted for the race.
Diamond, a political newcomber, credited her strong showing in the city of Amsterdam area to the endorsement she received from retiring Amsterdam Police Chief Greg Culick.
“I think that speaks volumes about the chief of police of the city of Amsterdam coming out and endorsing me,” she said. “I think it speaks volumes that the city is aware that the chief endorsed me because the Police Department needs a change here.”
McCoski said she thinks the in-person results had more to do with the number of people who voted, instead of the endorsements Diamond received from Culick and town of Amsterdam Supervisor Tom DiMezza.
In Albany County, former assistant district attorney Matthew A. Toporowski challenged incumbent District Attorney P. David Soares. With 90 percent of the vote counted, Soares had 53 percent, to 46 percent for Toporowski, according to unofficial results. Toporowski, however, issued a statement indicating he expected to win when all votes were counted.