BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — Max Della Pia and Tracy Mitrano each garnered about a third of the vote in the Democratic primary to challenge sitting Republican Congressman Tom Reed in New York’s 23rd district, which includes Elmira, out to Jamestown and up to Ithaca and Seneca County. When polls closed Tuesday, the race was too close to call; just 26 votes separated them.
The results were extremely slim in a few counties, including Seneca, where the difference was one vote.
“By one vote? Not in my experience has it been this close,” said Carl Same, Democratic Seneca County Board of Elections Commissioner.
So, in the next week, county boards of elections will count absentee votes to determine the winner; and Della Pia and Mitrano will likely review the ballots to see if there are any they can challenge.
“It’s definitely time lost on their part,” said Jim Twombly, professor of American politics at Elmira College. Della Pia and Mitrano are losing time they could be using to focus on the general election, “but if they want to have the opportunity to make their case against Tom Reed, they’ve gotta spend this time.”
Many Democratic voters in the 23rd District are eager for change. In the Town of Elmira, resident Nancy Balish has an international focus. She’s concerned about tariffs and what to do about immigration, which she referred to as “a big mess.”
“I’d like to see that fixed somehow so that the children are back with their parents. I’m a former teacher and I hate to see anything like that happen because I know how destructive it can be toward families.”
In the Town of Newfield, resident Michael Smith said he just wants public discourse to be civil again. He’s also one of the voters, like Paul Schmitt, resident of South Corning, who want the Democrat who has the best chance of beating Reed to win.
“The biggest issue that’s important to me, in the broad spectrum, is to get a good candidate for this because of the influence of our current representative and his Tea Party affiliation,” said Schmitt, who added that he’s also concerned about changes to Medicare and the recent federal tax bill.
That concern about Reed and his association with the Tea Party and President Trump is a main concern for a lot of Democratic voters this year, according to Grant Reeher, a political science professor at Syracuse University. He likens the current Democratic enthusiasm to that of Republicans back in 2010, which resulted in the GOP gaining upwards of 60 seats in the House.
Though, that election season was more a reaction against certain policies and Democrats in general.
“This one seems more specifically about a particular person, that being President Donald Trump,” said Reeher.
Trump won every county except Tompkins in the 23rd district back in 2016.