GHENT–Democrat Didi Barrett has acknowledged the concession of her opponent, Republican Richard Wager, as the final count continues in the race for the vacant seat in the 103rd Assembly District. But she stopped just short Friday, March 30 of claiming outright victory.
The special election was held March 20, but the final tally has awaited the deadline for absentee ballots, the ballots of military personnel and for the hand recount of votes in Columbia County, where election officials of both major parties have questioned the accuracy of the new electronic ballot scanning machines.
In a statement released late Friday afternoon, Ms. Barrett said, “Today, my opponent conceded in the special election for the 103rd Assembly District seat, and I want to thank Rich Wager for a hard fought race. But the counting of ballots is not yet complete, and every vote needs to be counted because every voter’s choice is important. However, I remain confident that I will be the next representative for the 103rd in the Assembly, and look forward to getting to work.”
Governor Cuomo called the special election after incumbent Republican Marc Molinaro resigned in late December to become Dutchess County executive. The City of Hudson and the towns of Ancram, Austerlitz, Canaan, Claverack, Copake, Ghent, Greenport, Hillsdale and Stockport in Columbia County and 12 Dutchess County towns stretching south to the Putnam County border presently comprise the 103rd Assembly District.
The majority of registered in the district voters live in Dutchess County, but in the unofficial results Ms. Barrett won by enough votes in Columbia County to offset Mr. Wager’s advantage in Dutchess.
Mr. Wager was quoted in the March 30 online edition of the Poughkeepsie Journal, www.poughkeepsiejournal.com, saying that he anticipated ending up “a few votes short of victory.”
The statement Mr. Wager gave the Journal said the campaign had turned negative in the last week of the brief campaign, but he congratulated Ms. Barrett and wished her the best.
The paper said Ms. Barrett led Mr. Wager by 165 votes with about 300 votes remaining to be counted in Columbia County. The final county is complete in Dutchess County.
In her statement Ms. Barrett said, “The Mid-Hudson Valley needs a representative in Albany to fight for issues important to middle class families–we need tax relief, good paying local jobs and a voice to make sure our needs are heard above the special interests.”
Despite the support she received in Columbia County, it now seems unlikely she will represent the county past the end of the year, even if she runs again for a full term. Ms. Barrett lives in the Town of Washington in Dutchess County, as does Mr. Wager. That town will become part of the 105th District under the new election districts, and no part of the new 105th is in Columbia County.