With all precincts reporting, a mere 26 votes separated the top two candidates in Tuesday’s 23rd District Democratic congressional primary, so a clear-cut winner will not be determined until absentee ballots are counted.
Max Della Pia, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel finished on top Tuesday with 7,022 votes, 26 votes ahead of Tracy Mitrano, an educator, who received 6,996 votes. The two candidates were separated by just a tenth of percentage point, with Della Pia capturing 32.4 percent of the vote, while Mitrano won 32.3 percent.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face U.S. Rep. Tom Reed in the Nov. 6 general election.
"The unofficial results show us winning, and we can't wait for the final results to be certified so we can take the fight to Tom Reed," Della Pia said in a Facebook post, but Mitrano said the race is too close to call.
"There are people hard at work across the district to count each and every vote, including absentee ballots," she said Tuesday night. "Every person who voted in this election deserves to have their vote count.”
In a statement issued late Tuesday, Reed’s campaign seized on the uncertainty surrounding the winner and suggested that all of the Democratic candidates are out-of-touch with voters in the 23rd District.
“We look forward to continuing to highlight how extreme and out of touch they are as they sort through the absentee ballots,” said Nicholas Weinstein, the congressman’s campaign manager.
Della Pia and Mitrano far outpaced the other three candidates in the primary. Linda Andrei finished third with 15.4 percent of the vote followed by Ian Golden with 13.5 percent and Eddie Sundquist with 6.4 percent.
In Cattaraugus County, Andrei received 331 votes, the most of any of the Democratic candidates. Sundquist finished second in the county with 257 votes, followed by Della Pia, 256; Mitrano, 235, and Golden, 136.