Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- It’s not official yet, but it looks like the Democrats have picked up a seat in the newly created 24th Congressional District with Dan Maffei’s win. His lead over Ann Marie Buerkle increased this afternoon when Cayuga County discovered a mistake made in counting the ballots.
Right now, Maffei leads Buerkle by 14,601 votes -- and counting -- but she’s not conceding until the absentee ballots are counted. There are 14,442.
Last election, those late votes gave the race to Buerkle. The question now: Can she win again?
Last night when we last saw Ann Marie Buerkle, she was holding out hope that outlying counties and absentees would turn the race around like they did two years ago.
“The votes have all got to be counted. It’s very important all votes are counted and when all the absentee votes are counted, then we’ll know,” Buerkle said.
But it seems we already know. Maffei has already claimed victory in a race many thought wouldn’t be decided for weeks. He says he knew he won when they took Oswego County, which they weren’t expected to do.
"We respect and we need to count all the votes, but that's true with every election in our country. That said, our lead at this point is insurmountable and so we need to move into the process of getting ready to do the work that we need to do to tackle these challenges that Central New York and the country face, so we're not wasting any time,” Maffei said.
Maffei says his campaign the last couple weeks really resonated with voters. He says showing how Bill Clinton got the economy moving and put people back to work was a key to taking back the seat in Congress.
“People of the 24th District, by-in-large Central New Yorkers, want to get things done and compromise is not a dirty word,” Maffei said.
Unlike his win four years ago, Maffei will be walking into a strongly Republican controlled House. He says he’s ready and willing to work with both sides in the House to move the country forward on the challenges it’s facing.
The incumbent Congresswoman did not speak directly after Maffei's declaration on Tuesday night, but issued a brief, written statement on Wednesday morning:
“In 2010, we were trailing on election night, only to see more votes come in and the outcome changed. With so many ballots still to be recorded, it is important that we make sure there is an accurate counting of all votes. Our right to vote has been bought and paid for by the men and women of our armed services, and we owe it to all who have paid the ultimate price to count these ballots and allow the Democratic process to run its course.”
Two years ago, Buerkle defeated the then-incumbent Maffei by fewer than 700 votes.