SOUTH SALEM, NY– New York State Senator Pete Harckham declared victory today in his re-election bid for the State Senate after reducing the nearly 9,000 vote lead held by his opponent Rob Astorino to less than 500 votes during absentee ballot counting. With more than 15,000 ballots still to be opened in Westchester County, where Harckham is winning votes at a 75% clip, he will take the lead in today’s vote counting and from there will build up an insurmountable total.
This morning, Astorino graciously conceded the race to Harckham during a personal phone call. Harckham thanked Astorino for his congratulations and wished him and his family well.
“I am humbled and grateful for all of the tremendous support I have received during this campaign, and thank all of the voters in Senate District 40 for participating in this historic election,” said Harckham. “The confidence and trust that residents have placed in me once again will continue to guide my intentions. These are challenging times, though, and I look forward to being engaged in the hard work necessary to ensure a better future for all.”
Harckham will begin his second term representing the 40th Senate District in January 2021, and his win now ensures that the Democrats will hold a supermajority in the State Senate.
“I’m thrilled to welcome my good friend Senator Peter Harckham back to the State Senate,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “Senator Harckham has worked tirelessly to deliver results to the people of Westchester, Dutchess and Putnam Counties and earned this re-election. I look forward to continuing to partner with Senator Harckham as we tackle the many challenges ahead of us.”
After the absentee ballots were counted in Dutchess and Putnam Counties, two Republican strongholds, Harckham had reduced Astorino’s lead to 5,896 votes. Three days of vote counting in Westchester, marred by stalling tactics and needless delays by the Republicans, had left Harckham just a few hundred votes behind though. Interestingly, yesterday’s surge of votes for Harckham took place mostly in Mount Pleasant, Astorino’s home turf, while absentee ballots in major Democratic strongholds like Mount Kisco, New Castle and Peekskill have not yet been counted.
In total, the absentee ballots in the race amounted to about 25% of the entire vote. With Harckham on track to win the election by potentially upwards of 10,000 votes, the perception that this was a close race is being replaced with the more accurate understanding that this was merely a slowly counted race. Harckham’s win over incumbent Terrence Murphy in 2018 was by just 3,700 votes.
During his first term in the State Senate, Harckham burnished his reputation as a public servant of the highest order. This past year alone Harckham passed 31 bills, a significant achievement by any measure and more than any other first-term legislator (second most in the entire Senate, too). His legislative accomplishments included keeping property taxes low, meeting the needs of our municipal governments, ensuring funding for schools, protecting the environment and supporting the workers and community surrounding Indian Point.
To keep property taxes low, Harckham helped pass a permanent tax cap and sponsored bills to create a real property exemption task force and an investigation in determining property tax saturation for communities overburdened by tax exempt properties. For municipal governments he created a residential parking program, designated inland waterways and made them grant eligible and allowed ball fields to lease space for small businesses to advertise.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Harckham passed eight bills in regard to the opioid crisis, including a bill in support of the good Samaritans carrying overdose reversal medicine and “Stephen’s Law,” which requires that certified drug treatment programs notify patients of their rights to identify trusted individuals who should be contacted in case of emergency.
Harckham secured more than $27 million in grants and funding in direct support for the district during his first term in the State Senate, providing crucial support for infrastructure, school districts, first responders, parks, libraries and healthcare clinics. Meanwhile, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Harckham and his team hosted seven food drives and collected about 30,000 pounds of food items and over $10,000 in cash donations for distribution residents in need.
“It should be obvious by now that our residents prefer problem-solving over politicking,” said Harckham. “We have the crucial work of governing ahead of us, so let’s finish counting the ballots without any more obstructions and refocus on what’s most important: helping people lead better lives.”
SOURCE: Tom Staudter | Director of Communications | Office of NY State Sen. Pete Harckham