By MATT LoPRESTI
UTICA, N.Y. (CN) – Unseating a Trump-supporting congresswoman, a grueling focus on absentee ballots led Democrat Anthony Brindisi to declare victory Wednesday in a Republican-majority district of upstate New York.
In the lead by just under 4,000 votes, Brindisi’s victory over U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney is now a mathematical certainty, despite the 1,881 ballots that remain unreported.
Three weeks ago on election night, Brindisi was ahead by just 1,293 votes, less than a single percentage point in a district that is home to dairy farms and the struggling former manufacturing towns of Binghamton and Utica.
A 40-year-old lawyer who has served in the state Assembly since 2011, Brindisi is among a group of five newly elected congressman to have signed a letter that opposes giving the gavel of the House speaker to Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California. With incumbents, the letter has 16 signatures total.
Brindisi campaigned with calls for civility and bipartisanship, while his opponent Tenney was an early and vocal supporter of Donald Trump, who won their 22nd district in 2016 by 16 percentage points.
Elected a year later, Tenney faced backlash when her staff sent out a memo that tried to link the Italian-American Brindisi to the mafia because of his father’s past legal work for organized crime figures.
Tenney made waves as well with a petition that called for the imprisonment of Hillary Clinton, and she said during in an interview that many people behind mass murders are Democrats.
The 57-year-old congresswoman has not conceded, and her campaign did not respond to messages seeking comment, but she acknowledged her long odds last week in an interview on public radio.
“I don’t think we have a chance of prevailing,” Tenney told WUTQ-FM radio.
In his campaign platform, Brindisi put health care, campaign-finance reform, help for farmers, and funding for new roads, bridges and water systems as some of his top priorities.
To safeguard the election results, he petitioned Oneida County on Nov. 9 to secure the district’s voting machines and absentee ballots before they could be officially counted.
Representatives for Brindisi have not returned a request for comment.