Russell wins 116th Assembly District race
Democratic Assemblywoman Addie Russell overcame a rematch challenge from Republican John Byrne to hold on to her seat in the 116th Assembly District. She defeated Byrne 53 percent to 47 percent, or by roughly 2,500 votes, in unofficial returns. The district runs from Cape Vincent to Massena along the St. Lawrence River. Russell was seen as vulnerable after having nearly lost to Byrne two years ago.
Russell's supporters gathered inside a new business in downtown Watertown -- and indoor children's playground called Fun Escape.
As the race tilted in Russell's favor, her friends, family and others chanted her name.
This race had gotten ugly in its final months. Mailboxes overflowed with political ads from each candidate.
Russell focused on Byrne’s past business failures especially his now defunct plastics factory in Otsego County. Byrne targeted a new weakness in Russell’s record -- her longstanding support for former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver who was convicted on corruption charges.
Russell said at the beginning of the evening, she wasn't sure if she'd come out the winner.
"But I had faith. I truly did that the residents of the North Country would be able to see through all of the things they were throwing at me and truly understand how devoted I am in the area and how I will continue to build on that."
Two years ago, Russell nearly lost her seat to Byrne. She came back from a deficit on election night to win by just 95 absentee votes.
Across town at the Savory bar, Byrne said he was grateful for the support he received from the Republican party. He was quick to concede the race to the assemblywoman.
"I think we sent a clear message to Albany that we wanted some change but evidently there are some people who think things are just fine the way they are," Byrne said.
Russell first won the seat in 2008. She's now become a veteran North Country lawmaker who's about to server her fifth term.