Republican Congressional candidate Chris Jacobs, a few minutes before midnight Tuesday, declared victory in the special election to fill the 27th Congressional District vacant seat.
But his challenger Democrat Nate McMurray and the district’s Democratic Party chairs were unwilling to concede with thousands of absentee ballots yet to be counted.
Within the four-county GLOW region, Jacobs had what appeared to be a commanding lead, with 15,101 votes gathered on the Republican and Independence line, compared to the 5,311 votes counted for McMurray, who also tallied votes as the Working Families candidate.
Totals were unofficial and complete primary results were not available late Tuesday. In addition, tens of thousands of absentee ballots have yet to be counted.
In the GLOW region, Jacobs, currently a state senator representing the Buffalo area, received 4,492 votes in Genesee County, 4,476 votes in Livingston County, 2,804 votes in Orleans County, and 3,329 votes in Wyoming County, according to unofficial results.
McMurray received 1,564 votes in Genesee County, 2,314 votes in Livingston County, 674 in Orleans County and 759 in Wyoming County, according to unofficial results.
Jacobs also claimed victory in the Republican Primary for the district.
Jacobs said at a press conference on Tuesday that it was mathematically impossible for McMurray to win the special election, or for Republicans Beth Parlato and Stefan Mychajliw to catch him in the Republican Primary.
“It has been a long challenging and ever-changing election, nevertheless the people of Western New York made their voices heard overwhelmingly for strong, conservative leadership,” Jacobs said in his statement. “With the commanding lead I have amassed; I am confident in declaring victory in both the Special and Primary elections. Now I am looking forward to getting to Congress and getting right to work fighting alongside our great President for the people of Western New York.”
According to tracking by The New York Times, Jacobs – with 83 percent of the precincts reporting – had received 50,780 votes, or 69.7 percent, compared to McMurray’s total of 26,831 votes, or 28.6 percent.
McMurray, in response to Jacobs’ victory declaration, tweeted: “This race is not over. We want to make sure all votes are counted.”
McMurray later issued a lengthy statement noting “a historic number of absentee and mail-in ballots” still needed to be counted.
“I feel good. I am optimistic that when all the votes are counted our campaign will be victorious,” he said. “It has been a difficult few months for our country and the people of Western New York, and while voters are anxious to learn the outcome from this election, we must see this entire process through and give the Board of Elections time to process the overwhelming number of absentee ballots that were received. Many of these ballots were those of the elderly, at-risk population, and as well as our military population overseas. We can’t ignore their voices. I’m not declaring victory until the last vote is counted.”
Democratic Party chairs in the district shared their candidate’s optimism.
“While the GOP would love to be counting its chickens before they hatch, we know those absentee votes have put Nate in a very strong position, and we’re very excited to have all the votes counted and the real result actually determined,” said Livingston County Chair Judith Hunter.
Added Wyoming County Chair Cynthia Appleton: “We will remain beside Nate as the votes are counted after election night. People voted absentee in huge numbers for this special election and every vote must be counted. So, while nothing can be decided on today, we have every confidence when all the votes are counted, Nate McMurray will be out next Congressman.”
Genesee County Democratic Chair Michael Plitt said “there has been nothing normal about this election cycle; the challenges for both the candidates and the Board of Elections have been great” and expressed confidence that the outcome would favor McMurray.
Orleans County Democratic Chair Jeanne Crane said McMurray “truly understands what people are concerned about: lack of jobs, lack of affordable housing and high taxes.
Others receiving votes were Libertarian Party candidate Duane Whitmer, 837, or 1.1 percent; and Michael Gammariello of the Green Party, 412, or 0.6 percent.
The 27th District seat has been vacant since last year when former Congressman Chris Collins pleaded guilty to insider trading.
The winner of the special election will fill the seat until November.
McMurray, the former Grand Island town supervisor, narrowly lost to Collins in 2018.
Jacobs was also running in a Republican Primary against Beth Parlato and Stefan Mychajliw.
Jacobs received a total of 41,436 votes, or 71 percent of the total, according to unofficial results compiled by The New York Times. Parlato received 9,463 votes, or 16.2 percent, and Mychajliw garnered 7,500 votes or 12.8 percent.
In the GLOW Region, Jacobs easily outpolled his challengers. Jacobs received 2,473 votes in Genesee County, 2,935 in Livingston County, 1,775 votes in Orleans County, and 1,824 in Wyoming County.
Parlato received 1,099 votes in Genesee County, 987 in Livingston County, 472 in Orleans County, and 662 in Wyoming County.
Mychajliw received 340 votes in Genesee County, 278 in Livingston County, 230 votes in Orleans County, and 374 in Wyoming County.
In a statement, Mychajliw congratulated Jacobs on his primary victory and said he was thankful for the support he’s received in the race.
“We said it was important to let voters decide, and they have,” Mychajliw said in his statement. “While not victorious, I’m proud of the race we ran. We stayed above the fray, and ran a positive campaign on the issues. I’m a loyal Republican – always have been, always will be. Just like I have in the past, I will work hard to keep NY-27 in Republican hands in November.”