Howard Dean doesn’t need to know the winner of the special election in New York’s 20th Congressional District to call it a victory for the Democrats.
The former chairman of the Democratic National Committee said his party’s showing at the polls suggests the Republican Party no longer has a stronghold in the district. Despite the Republicans having a clear majority of registered voters in their favor, he said they still haven’t managed to pull ahead of Scott Murphy, the Democratic candidate.
“From a national point of view, the Democrats have won,” he said during a news conference at Union College’s Old Chapel. “Now it’s all over but the counting.”
Dean spoke of the ongoing race for the 20th District prior to a speech he delivered to a gathering of roughly 500 students and area residents on the campus. During his visit, he discussed the emergence of “the 50-state strategy” — the strategy that played a role in helping President Barack Obama to a landslide win in November — and how the Democrats were able to compete for votes in traditionally Republican states.
“There isn’t any district — including the 20th — that we should leave behind as Democrats,” he said.
Meanwhile, former state Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco drew closer to Murphy, according to figures released by the state Board of Elections Monday. Murphy was guarding a 25-vote lead across the district.
In other developments, the deadline for absentee ballots passed, with only 205 of 998 military ballots received. The board also reported receiving 210 federal ballots back from the 874 mailed out.
In a related development, Tedisco wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder requesting that the deadline for military ballots be extended 15 days. In requesting the extension, he noted that some counties had mailed ballots out less than three weeks before the deadline.
In Poughkeepsie, state Supreme Court Judge James Brands was unable to hear arguments from attorneys representing both campaigns after being hospitalized over the weekend. Senior court clerk Karen Bitonte said Brands is expected back today and will continue hearing arguments on a variety of issues Wednesday morning.
“He’s going to be fine,” she said Monday afternoon.
In response to the ongoing tally, Dean said he hopes the election doesn’t extend as long as the Minnesota Senate race between Democrat Al Franken and Republican Norm Coleman. In that race, a Minnesota court confirmed Franken the winner Monday, but Coleman immediately announced his plans to appeal the decision, according to an Associated Press report.
“Delays are not going to do anyone any good,” Dean said of the 20th District race. “Let’s not delay and try to put the results of the vote off.”
Dean also spoke in favor of Gov. David Paterson, whose poll numbers have plummeted in recent months. He applauded Paterson for taking a fiscally conservative stance and appealed to New Yorkers to give Paterson time to correct some economic problems he inherited.
“Give him a chance,” he said. “He took office under very difficult circumstances.”