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Langworthy declares victory in NY-23 GOP primary, but Paladino doesn’t concede

New York State GOP Chair Nick Langworthy was all smiles after winning the Republican primary for New York's 23rd Congressional District Aug. 23, 2022.
Mike Desmond
New York State GOP Chair Nick Langworthy was all smiles after winning the Republican primary for New York's 23rd Congressional District Aug. 23, 2022.

New York State Republican Chair Nick Langworthy declared a slim victory over Carl Paladino early Wednesday morning in an unusual primary race that saw two candidates close to former President Donald Trump duking it out for the most conservative district in the state.

Unofficial results from the New York State Board of Elections show Langworthy with 51.1% of the GOP vote in the 23rd Congressional District, and Paladino with just 46.9%. That’s with 93% of election districts reporting.

Results showed Langworthy trailing for most of Tuesday evening. Paladino got out to an early lead by winning Erie County with a 2-to-1 margin, but Langworthy made up for it by carrying all of the other six counties in the recently redrawn district’s Southern Tier.

Langworthy, speaking from his Clarence headquarters, credited his home county of Chautauqua, which he won by 2,000 votes.

“That helped get me on that comeback that brought us back,” he said.

And as he did throughout the campaign, Langworthy directly contrasted his style with Paladino’s.

“As I said from the beginning, I'm not running for Congress to go say outlandish things on cable news,” he said. “I'm there to be a serious legislator, to be a solutions-oriented congressman that can help local governments, our local businesses navigate the federal government."

Paladino, a Buffalo real estate developer, has a history of racist and controversial remarks, saying earlier this month that U.S. Attorney General Merick Garland should be executed for the raid on Trump’s Mar-a-lago resort. He later said he was being facetious.

Paladino did not concede, and left his Orchard Park watch party Tuesday evening without addressing the media. His campaign spokesperson, Vish Burra, told reporters that they hoped to have more answers about the race on Wednesday.

Burra later put out a statement alleging “statistical irregularities” in several counties, but did not offer any details or evidence.

“We want every single legal vote to count,” the statement read.

One irregularity could be in Allegany County, where the state BOE website showed no election districts reporting results yet Langworthy winning the county by 1,100 votes.

But Langworthy credits his win to an organized, methodical campaign that reflected his decades as a back-room political organizer.

“We spent time in the last six weeks working those counties in the Southern Tier,” he said. “I had townhall meetings in every single one of those counties. We invited all the primary voters to join us. And we sat there and the crowds grew and they grew and they grew. And we were very, very pleased with the support that we were developing.”

Langworthy’s victory came without an endorsement from Trump, who still holds significant influence over the party. Both Langworthy and Paladino both highlighted their connections with Trump during the campaign, although the former president didn’t endorse either candidate.

A supporter of Carl Paladino shows off a "Carl Country" shirt at Paladino's Orchard Park watch party Aug. 23, 2022.
Mike Desmond
A supporter of Carl Paladino shows off a "Carl Country" shirt at Paladino's Orchard Park watch party Aug. 23, 2022.

The usual August primary was needed after U.S. Rep. Chris Jacobs suddenly decided not to seek reelection. Jacobs made that decision in June after facing Republican backlash for supporting gun control measures in wake of the racist mass shooting in Buffalo. Jacobs’ 27th Congressional District is being eliminated by redistricting and so he planned to run in the 23rd.

Langworthy will now stand a good chance of making it to Congress, as the 23rd District skews heavily Republican. He’ll face Democrat Max Della Pia in the general election in November.

Della Pia ran in a special election Tuesday for a chance to represent the 23rd District through the end of the year, but was defeated by Steuben County GOP Chair Joe Sempolinski, who will now serve just four months in Congress.

The special election was triggered by the resignation of U.S. Rep. Tom Reed. Reed stepped down from the 23rd District in May to take a lobbying job, but had announced last year he would not seek reelection due to a sexual misconduct allegation against him.

If Langworthy does make it to Congress, he said his focus will be on lowering inflation and improving America’s energy independence. He also said Republicans have to focus on taking back the House of Representatives from Democrats.

“A lot of the great progress we've made under President Trump's administration on policy matters has been rolled back in two short years,” he said. “We have to go create divided government to go bring some sanity to Washington.”

Copyright 2022 WBFO. To see more, visit WBFO.

Tom Dinki joined WBFO in August 2019 to cover issues affecting older adults.