New York Republican Keeps Lead in the Nation's Last Uncalled House Race

New York Republican Keeps Lead in the Nation's Last Uncalled House Race
Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.) and Claudia Tenney. (US House of Representatives; Claudia Tenney's campaign)
Bill Pan

The Republican challenger of the last undecided Congressional seat has regained her lead over the Democratic incumbent in a race that remains on razor's edge.

Claudia Tenney, who held New York's 22nd Congressional District seat for a single term and narrowly lost reelection in 2018 to Rep. Anthony Brindisi, said Wednesday that she is leading by just 29 votes.

Tenney's small but widening advantage came after Oneida County finished its canvassing of about 1,800 affidavit ballots that were previously left uncounted. Those ballots were included in the recount under a Dec. 8 order from state Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte.

The completion of Oneida County's tally marks the end of the counting across the NY 22nd, nearly two months after the general election. As of Wednesday, the unofficial results for the district, which covers all or part of eight upstate New York counties, have Tenney leading with 155,862 votes and Brindisi with 155,833.

The contest, however, won't be officially concluded until early next year after DelConte's ruling on whether some 2,000 ballots, which are being contested by the Tenney and Brindisi campaigns, should be included or tossed away from the final count. That means when the new Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3, the NY 22nd won't have a representative in the House.

The seat for Louisiana's 5th Congressional District will also remain open due to the recent death of Republican Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, leaving the new House with 222 Democrats and 210 Republicans.

"Now that every undisputed ballot has been counted twice, we are still in the lead," Tenney said in a statement. "We remain confident that once the contested ballots are reviewed by the court and the facts accurately applied according to the law, I will be declared the winner, certified, seated, and head to Congress to serve all the people of New York's 22nd District."

The Democrats, who were projected to pick up new seats in the House, lost enough seats in this year's elections that they are now faced with the smallest majority in 20 years.

"We lost races we shouldn't have lost," Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) said at a conference call after barely winning her reelection against Republican challenger Nick Freitas. She blamed radical progressive campaigns such as "Defund the Police" and "Medicare for All" for the Democrats' lackluster performance.

"'Defund the police' almost cost me my race because of an attack ad. Don't say socialism ever again," Spanberger said, warning that Democrats should "get back to basics" or expect to be "torn apart" in the next election.