Jeff Gildersleeve says it would be foolish to give up his bid to be the Republican nominee for Saratoga County sheriff until all the votes are counted.
Michael Zurlo, of Stillwater, appeared to have a firm hold on the party’s nomination after voting Tuesday, as he racked up 6,206 votes to Gildersleeve’s 5,800 votes, according to the Saratoga County Board of Elections. The lead was enough for Zurlo, 59, to declare victory late Tuesday night.
Gildersleeve, 56, of Ballston, said his path to victory lies with absentee and affidavit ballots, as well as the recanvassing of votes.
“We are not conceding,” he said.
There were 987 absentee ballots issued to Republicans in Saratoga County and a little more than half have been received by the county Board of Elections. Gildersleeve said his volunteers were effective in getting voters to cast absentee ballots, so he remains hopeful.
If all the absentee ballots are counted, which isn’t likely, more than 87 percent would have to break for Gildersleeve for him to overcome his current deficit of 406 votes. In most elections, though, where absentee ballots are counted, a sizable percentage of absentee ballots are ruled invalid and aren’t counted. If the pool of valid absentee votes shrinks, so do Gildersleeve’s chances.
The county Board of Elections isn’t scheduled to start opening absentee ballots until early next week.
There is also the possibility that affidavit votes, emergency ballots cast the day of the election, could favor Gildersleeve.
The odds of Zurlo losing his lead are low, as absentee and affidavit ballots tend to reflect the results from the day of the election. Based on those trends, it is more likely that Zurlo will expand his lead over Gildersleeve.
Because the enrollment advantage in the county heavily favors Republicans, whoever emerges with the party’s nomination will have a strong edge in the general election against Conservative Phil Lindsey, who also has the Democratic line, and independent Jason Longton. If Gildersleeve did wrestle the Republican line away, Zurlo would still have the Independence line, which would cause a four-way race.