Van Houten Wins Close Primary For Tompkins D.A.

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TOMPKINS COUNTY, NY (WSKG) – Tompkins County District Attorney Matthew Van Houten has claimed a re-election victory in a close primary against challenger, Ithaca attorney Ed Kopko.

Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio)

Tompkins County District Attorney Matt Van Houten in his office, November 8, 2019. (Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio)

The Tompkins County Board of Elections received about 9,000 mail-in votes. That’s a higher total than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Van Houten lead by about 300 votes. A Tompkins County Board of Elections representative told WSKG any change in the count will not be significant enough to change the results of the race.

The Board of Elections reported that of the 13,857 votes cast, 2,447 people did not vote for any candidate, a larger percentage of undervotes than in any other race.

In a statement on Tuesday morning, Van Houten called the result a “victory for truth.”

During the campaign, the candidate sparred over a case last year that lead to public protests against Van Houten and the Ithaca Police Department. Van Houten and Kopko expressed different views about the role of a district attorney, especially when it comes to police misconduct.

“I embrace the opportunity to participate in the meaningful and significant change that is happening in our public safety system here in Tompkins County,” Van Houten said.

It is the second time Van Houten and Kopko have opposed each other for district attorney.

Van Houten is currently unopposed in November’s general election.