Addie Russell and John Byrne in standoff for 116th Assembly seat
Last night ended with Republican challenger John Byrne leading the race for the 116th Assembly District by 117 votes. But incumbent Democrat Addie Russell has not bowed out of the race to represent the district that covers parts of Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. She cited the several thousand absentee ballots that still need to be counted, saying their tally may shift the race results.
Spirits were high in the Republican headquarters in Watertown early in the evening, despite numbers that showed Byrne trailing Russell. Byrne worked the crowd, shaking hands and giving hugs.
"I'm feeling real good about the race that we ran," Byrne said. "My wife, my daughter and our whole team just really put everything we had into this. We were on the phone until five minutes before we got here."
But just an hour later, the tide shifted.
Byrne inched ahead of Russell, taking a three percent lead, and he kept that lead after all the votes in Jefferson and St. Lawrence County were counted. The final tally had Byrne ahead of Russell with 48 percent of the vote, while Russell had 47.
Russell insisted the race cannot be called until the absentee ballots are counted.
"Well, I certainly would have liked to have known the turnout of the race tonight but it's a tough year," Russell explained. "We knew there was a lot of momentum behind the Republican candidates, particularly here in the North Country. We knew this was going to be close, and it is."
Byrne says he is confident he will be declared the 116th District's assemblyman.