State Sen. Roy McDonald’s re-election bid was dealt a significant blow on Monday after the final round of absentee ballots didn’t close Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione’s lead in the race for the Republican line on November’s ballot.
Marchione held a slim 106-vote lead when the GOP primary polls closed on Sept. 13. That lead swelled another four votes last week after absentee votes were counted Thursday in Washington County and Rensselaer County.
That meant the McDonald campaign had to close the gap in Saratoga County and Columbia County, which tallied absentee ballots on Monday.
But that didn’t happen.
Marchione carried the absentee ballots in Columbia County by a 134-108 vote, according to that county’s Democratic elections commissioner, Virginia Martin.
“For all intents and purposes, it sounds like we’ll be on the Republican line,” said Marchione campaign spokesman Ken Giardin.
McDonald, R-Saratoga, gained just 27 votes in Saratoga County, which had more than 400 absentee ballots to tally on Monday, by far the largest of the four counties in play in New York’s 43rd state Senate District, according to county Republican Elections Commissioner Roger Schiera.
McDonald has the Independence Party line at his disposal in November’s general election if he chooses to run a third-party campaign.
About 70 absentee ballots were challenged between the two campaigns throughout the four counties and no court date to review the contested ballots has been set. The state Supreme Court typically only reviews contested ballots if there’s enough to swing the election.
His campaign staff said last week that McDonald would stay in the race and honor his commitment to the Independence Party if he couldn’t close the gap with Marchione.
Repeated calls to McDonald’s spokesman, Mike Veitch, went unreturned on Monday afternoon. Veitch said earlier Monday that McDonald’s availability to the media would depend on the outcome of the absentee counts.
It’s unknown if McDonald plans to concede the Republican primary or push on with a court challenge of the roughly three dozen absentee ballots contested by his campaign.
Marchione is scheduled to hold a press conference Tuesday in Halfmoon to address the primary results.
A Marchione staffer declined to label Tuesday’s event a “victory speech,” saying that the campaign wanted to first “see where we are.”
The McDonald campaign had yet to file its post-primary financial report on Monday to the state Board of Elections.
But the two-term senator had $165,000 in his war chest on Aug. 31, less than two weeks before the primary.
Marchione’s post-primary filing shows that the county clerk’s insurgent campaign had just $20,400 in the bank as of Thursday. Marchione’s campaign spent $60,000, largely on advertising, in the lead up to the primary.
Marchione will appear on the Conservative Party line, support directly related to her opposition to McDonald’s vote last year in favor of gay marriage.
Marchione and McDonald are jockeying to face off against Robin Andrews, the Democratic candidate and supervisor of the Colombia County town of Claverack.
Another Republican whose support was pivotal in enacting gay marriage in New York was declared the winner on Monday of another close GOP primary.
Sen. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, edged challenger Neil DiCarlo by 107, according to the Associated Press.