Upper East Side Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright declared victory late Tuesday night in what had been a rocky re-election campaign against a fairly competitive opponent.
Back in March, Seawright’s chances of securing a fourth term were put in doubt when the Board of Elections kicked the incumbent off both Democratic Party and Working Families Party ballot lines due to filing errors when submitting her petition signatures.
And yet, Seawright made it onto the ballot as an independent, running on the Rise and Unite Party line. Seawright’s placement on an unfamiliar ballot line gave her Republican challenger, Louis Puliafito, a bit of a boost.
Though there are absentee ballots left to count, Seawright has claimed victory with 56 percent of the vote with nearly 80 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Board of Elections. Even with major party backing, Puliafito seems to have fallen short with 12,167 votes to Seawright’s 15,464.
“This was a long journey,” Seawright said in a statement. “We went from the deepest valley to the highest mountain top. The voters found us on the ballot and honored us with their support. We will continue to fight for the best interests of our community as we rise and unite to combat the impact of the pandemic in every way.”
Seawright’s campaign called the victory historic, claiming it was the first time an independent line candidate has defeated a major party candidate in the district that serves the UES, Yorkville and Roosevelt Island.
Yet despite running on the independent line, Seawright maintained the backing of the Democratic establishment — touting endorsements from Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton in the closing days of the race. Additionally, Seawright significantly outspent Puliafito, dropping more than $400,000 on the race compared to the few thousand dollars spent by Puliafito.
As of Wednesday, Puliafito did not concede the race, remarking on Twitter that it was now up to absentee ballots, which will not be counted until Monday, Nov. 9.
“With her spending at least $400K, you would have thought it would be a blowout,” Puliafito said in a tweet.
Contentious Primary Race
Similarly across Manhattan, Democratic incumbents in the state legislature held onto their seats Tuesday nights.
UES Assembly Member Dan Quart, who won a litigious and contentious primary race in June, cruised to victory in the general, toppling his Republican challenger, Judith Graham, with 69.5 percent of the vote.
“I want to express my deepest gratitude to my community for once again putting their faith in me and our campaign,” Quart said in a statement. “We must work to revitalize our small businesses, address the MTA’s growing financial crisis, and secure additional relief funds for working families. It is my honor to continue serving the people of 73rd District in the State Assembly.”
State Senator Liz Krueger, who represents the UES, defeated Republican challenger Mike Zumbluskas with 74 percent of the vote.
Assembly members Yuh-Line Niou, Linda Rosenthal, Richard Gottfried, Harvey Epstein and State Senator Brad Hoylman were all re-elected in uncontested races.
Longtime members of Congress Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney will return to Washington following decisive victories.