Republican Dean Murray has won back his old Assembly seat, edging out incumbent Democrat Edward Hennessey, the Suffolk Board of Elections said Thursday.
With all paper ballots counted, Murray won the 3rd Assembly District seat by 526 votes. Murray led by 629 votes in unofficial returns on election night.
"I know the district wants us to focus on issues in Albany, not on party affiliations," said Murray, of East Patchogue. "This is a district of independent thinkers."
He said he'd try to improve the state's "dismal" business climate, reduce unfunded state mandates and allow school curricula to be determined locally.
It was the second close race for the rivals. Hennessey of Shirley defeated Murray two years ago by 226 votes.
During the campaign, Assembly Republicans hired a private investigator to place a GPS tracker on Hennessey's car for two months in an attempt to prove he lived outside the district. A judge rejected the attempt to force Hennessey off the ballot.
Hennessey said Thursday he had "no regrets" about the race. "We fought a strong and honorable campaign."
Hennessey said the use of the GPS tracker highlighted the need for establishment of some "code of conduct" in campaigns.
Though the GOP raised the residency issue, Murray called it "unfortunate that it became so much of the campaign. It was unfortunate the question arose of his residency in the first place."
Murray, 50, first won his Assembly seat in a 2010 special election and then won a full term in November of that year. He started an advertising agency in 1997 and is married, with one son.