Republican takes NY-22 congressional race... finally

As John reported on Tuesday, the last congressional race to be determined from the 2020 elections was delayed yet again while a judge wrestled with competing claims about thousands of mail-in ballots. It was projected to be at least a week before any sort of final ruling would be issued. It didn’t take quite that long because last night, state Supreme Court Justice Scott Del Conte ordered the results to be certified. Republican Claudia Tenney was the winner by a ridiculously slim margin and she could be seated as soon as Monday. (NY Post)

Republican Claudia Tenney will be declared the winner of her nail-biting rematch against upstate Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi following a marathon three-month recount.

It was the only 2020 congressional race in the country that hadn’t been decided.

The recount and reported irregularities has been a black eye on New York’s handling of elections amid the pandemic.

“Every single valid vote that was cast in New York’s 22nd Congressional District has been accounted for, and counted,” wrote state Supreme Court Justice Scott Del Conte, oversee the disputed recount, in a ruling released Friday.

Following her defeat of Democratic incumbent Anthony Brindisi, Tenney at least won’t need any help finding her office or the lady’s room when she returns to Capitol Hill next week. She held the seat for one term before losing to Brindisi in the 2018 midterms.

Tenney has been an interesting figure in New York politics for a while. Coming from a seat in the state assembly, she was viewed as a Tea Party favorite during that movement’s surge in the 2010-2014 timeframe. She attempted to unseat Republican Congressman Richard Hanna in the 2014 GOP primary. Hanna was a renowned RINO who actually encouraged female voters to donate to the Democratic Party in support of abortion. She lost that primary challenge by only six points.

Tenney came back in 2016 to win the primary and then her seat representing NY-22, but it was a three-way race that she won with a plurality by just four percent. She lost to Brindisi in 2018 by a margin of fewer than 4,000 votes and the recounts led that race to stretch out to nearly December. This time she’s been declared the winner by just 109 votes after more than three months of court battles. To say the least, Claudia Tenney has never had a cakewalk in any of her congressional elections.

The judge’s proclamation that “every single valid vote that was cast” has been counted is dubious, to say the least. By this point, all of the valid votes have certainly been counted, but whether some of them were counted more than once is unknown. The NY-22 race has put the question of massive mail-in voting under a very bright spotlight and the results were ugly. We learned fairly early on that the vote totals from one entire county included ballots that were originally set aside and county election officials could not definitively say to the judge whether they had been included in the original tally or not. In a different county (Madison), 54 people were recorded showing up to vote on election day who already had mail-in ballots submitted in their names. A minimum of three votes were cast in the names of dead people, with two perpetrators having been charged with voter fraud. And those are just the ones they managed to catch.

When you take all of that information into account and consider that Tenney was declared the winner by a margin of 109 votes, how does this race not go down in the books without a huge asterisk next to it? The fact is that nobody really knows who actually received the most votes because the ocean of mail-in ballots overwhelmed the system and left the election open to enough cases of abuse and fraud that the real results can’t possibly be known. New York State was not prepared to handle massive mail-in voting in 2020 and without sweeping changes, it won’t be ready in 2022. This debacle can’t be allowed to repeat itself again next year or there will be little reason for voters to believe that the results are valid and the votes were counted fairly and accurately.