Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

State Senator Tom O'Mara (R-N.Y.) has declared victory in New York State Senate's 58th district race, despite his and opponent Leslie Danks Burke's commitment to waiting for all mail-in ballots to be counted.

November 5, 2020

Although Races Not Officially Certified, Democrat Assemblywoman and Republican State Senator Maintain Sizeable Leads

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With thousands of mail-in ballots yet to be processed, neither elections for the 125th district in the New York State Assembly nor the 58th district of the State Senate have officially been called. 

However, Anna Kelles (D) is well ahead in the State Assembly race and her opponent Matthew McIntyre (R) appears to have conceded. In the State Senate race, incumbent Tom O’Mara (R-N.Y.) has been projected to win by NBC affiliate WETM, but he and his opponent Leslie Danks Burke (D) have committed to waiting for all mail-in ballots to be counted. 

In the State Assembly race, an apparent concession Wednesday morning from McIntyre and an approximate 8,000-vote lead for Kelles as of Wednesday evening indicated that she is poised to win the seat. 

McIntyre took to Facebook to say that while he is grateful for his votes, “there are not 10,000 additional votes in the mail ins for me and zero for Kelles. 2 years we come back with a different plan of attack.” 

Election officials will start counting mail-in ballots Nov. 11. “I think it’s really important, as we are seeing at the national level, to respect the ballot counting process,” Kelles said. She and her campaign feel hopeful about their strong lead. 

As of Wednesday evening, Kelles had received over 61 percent of the vote, with 96 out 98 election districts reported.  

Kelles spent Election Day evening attending watch parties for various elections and relaxing Wednesday night by watching Harry Potter with her family. Kelles plans on spending at least the next week — as votes are still tallied — on researching the different committees within the State Assembly and ironing out her legislative priorities, preparing herself for the possibility that she wins the seat.

“I take this role extremely seriously,” Kelles said. “I will represent everyone who supported me and I deeply honor and thank those who did, but I will be representing those who didn’t as well.”

On the national level, Kelles was disappointed to see how close the election was, although she was glad to see several states tilting blue on Wednesday evening. 

“We have a lot of healing to do as a country. A lot of facing our shadows, a lot of self-reflection on who we want to be,” Kelles said. 

In the State Senate race, official results have yet to be certified because of incoming mail-in ballots, but O’Mara is certain of his victory. Danks Burke, his opponent, does not believe the election is decided yet. 

“I won this election. I’m up by 23,000 votes, there aren’t many more than that in absentee ballots,” O’Mara said. “I suspect the numbers will be a slight advantage for her. There’s no way she can close that 23,000 gap.”

In contrast, Danks Burke is waiting for the mail-in ballots’ final count. 

“I’m optimistic. I think that that’s a lot of posturing. We’re going to hear there are a quarter of the ballots still out there left to be counted,” Danks Burke said. “The people who requested are overwhelmingly Democrats.”

The candidates disagreed about the overall tone of Danks Burke’s campaign.

“Leslie ran on an extremely negative campaign full of lies and misrepresentations and false innuendos, and I think the voters clearly saw that for what it is,” O’Mara said. “That style of politics does not play well in the South Tier and Finger Lakes region.”

In contrast, Danks Burke defended her campaign, saying it has been about “getting a fair share for the generation that’s coming up to run our future.” 

The partisan breakdown of the State Assembly is currently 103 Democrats, 42 Republicans and 1 independent. Kelles will succeed Democrat incumbent Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-N.Y.), who did not endorse Kelles in the Democratic primaries but instead endorsed Jordan Lesser ’03, her former general counsel. 

The State Senate also has a Democratic majority, with 40 seats filled by Democrats and 20 by Republicans. Assuming he wins the seat, O’Mara will begin his sixth term in January. 

Both members of the New York State Assembly and State Senate serve two-year terms and are not subject to term limits.