Three and a half weeks after voters went to the polls to pick a new congressman, Democrat Scott Murphy has been declared the winner.
Republican James Tedisco of Glenville conceded the race Friday afternoon by phone to Murphy, ending weeks of counting paper ballots and state Supreme Court appearances.
“We’ve got a lot of work in front of us, and I’m excited,” Murphy said Friday evening in a news conference at the traffic circle in Glens Falls, just outside his campaign headquarters.
He said his swearing-in ceremony is likely to be sometime next week, although he doesn’t know when.
The venture capitalist and entrepreneur plans to jump into learning about his new job immediately. He said there’s a lot to catch up on since no one has been in the seat since late January when Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to fill the rest of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s term.
Murphy, 39, admitted that the ride since the March 31 special election was tense at times.
“There were some up days, some down days,” he said, adding he spent his time studying spreadsheets of votes for each precinct.
Murphy doesn’t plan to move his family — wife Jennifer Hogan, daughters Simone and Lux and son Duke — to Washington. He said his family will stay in Glens Falls and he will commute.
“That way we can continue to have our life here in this community.”
Murphy was slightly ahead on election night when machine votes were counted, but his lead dwindled in the days immediately after the election. At one point, the two candidates were tied.
Murphy started picking up votes as absentee ballots were counted and ended Friday 399 votes ahead, with 80,420 votes to Tedisco’s 80,021.
It remained unclear Friday evening whether the court will still decide outstanding questions about whether to count certain absentee ballots or whether the individual county elections commissioners will make those decisions before the state Board of Elections certifies a vote total.
With that much of a margin, Tedisco called Murphy and conceded. The assemblyman representing the 110th District also offered his help, as the two men’s districts overlap.
“It was a very gracious way to come to a conclusion,” Murphy said of Tedisco’s concession.
In a statement issued Friday afternoon, Tedisco thanked voters and volunteers for their support.
“This was a close campaign every step of the way,” he said. “Ultimately, it became clear that the numbers were not going our way and that the time had come to step aside and ensure that the next congressman be seated as quickly as possible.”
Murphy also fielded a congratulatory call on Friday from President Barack Obama, who had endorsed Murphy.
The special election drew a large voter turnout for a race that was the only one on the ballot. Voters’ homes were inundated with TV ads, phone calls and mailings from the start of the two-month race.
The race also drew national attention, and some pundits called it a referendum on Obama’s presidency. Murphy aligned himself with Obama and the $780 billion economic recovery act; Tedisco at first took no stand on the bill but finally said he would have voted against it, calling it pork-barrel spending.
Saratoga County Democratic Chairman Larry Bulman said Murphy’s win proves that the Democrats can win again in the 20th Congressional District, as they did twice with Kirsten Gillibrand.
“Enrollment advantages don’t mean anything around here,” Bulman said. “People are dealing with serious issues day in and day out. They just want someone that is going to work with them.”
Republicans comprise 42 percent of the enrolled voters in the 20th Congressional District, and 26 percent are Democrats. The rest of the voters belong to third parties or are unaffiliated.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions admitted in a statement on Friday that the GOP faces an uphill battle in the future in this district.
“After a long, hard-fought race, the final result of the New York special election reinforces what our party has known since November — we have our work cut out for us when it comes to winning in Democrat-held districts,” Sessions said.
Democratic leaders trumpeted Murphy’s come-from-behind victory. He was a virtual unknown to most of the district when he was announced as the Democratic candidate.
“Though the odds were stacked against him, Democrat Scott Murphy ran a positive, aggressive campaign and proved to voters in New York 20 that he understands the unique issues they are facing,” said state Democratic Chairwoman June O’Neill.
Democratic heavyweights issued public congratulations to Murphy on Friday, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Gillibrand.