BUFFALO, NY- Former Erie County Executive, Chris Collins has declared himself the winner in the race for the 27th congressional district against Representative Kathy Hochul.
Collins declared victory just before 1 a.m. - minutes after the Associated Press declared him the winner.
The race against Hochul is very close, and it is not clear that Collins will be on top when all of the absentee ballots are counted.
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The 27th district is the most heavily Republican district in New York State, with 178,000 Republicans and 143,000 Democrats. There are also 104,000 people who are not registered with either party or are members of the Independence party.
But Democrat and incumbent Kathy Hochul took the stage late Tuesday night to say that the fact that the race with Republican and former Erie County Executive Chris Collins is so close is an "amazing statement" given that the enrollment numbers in the district were heavily weighed against her.
Hochul said she will "let the process carry on" before she thanked supporters and her family, including her husband, U.S. Attorney Bill Hochul.
Regardless of the outcome of Tuesday's vote, there could be some 20,000 ballots from the military and absentee voters still to be tallied. Those ballots won't be opened until November 20th. The final official counting or canvassing of all of the ballots won't begin until the next day, the 21st, the day before Thanksgiving.
Erie County Elections Commissioner Dennis Ward said, "So I would expect that if it's that close, that we would be in for at least a few days if not several days of a canvass."