State Sen. Kevin Thomas declared victory Monday in his tight reelection contest, saying absentee ballots reversed a deficit he faced on election night.
As of late Monday afternoon, Thomas (D-Levittown) had 72,284 votes and Republican Dennis Dunne, 70,857 — a difference of 1,427. That was enough for Thomas to claim a win and Dunne to concede Monday evening.
Although there were more than 6,000 votes left to count, Nassau County and New York State Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs said the math puts the race on ice for Thomas. Of the remaining votes, about 2,596 were submitted by Democrats, 2,083 by Republicans and about 1,800 by unaffiliated and minor-party members.
"Based on the results of the absentee ballots opened so far and the Democratic enrollment advantage in the ballots yet to be opened, I am now happy to congratulate Kevin Thomas on his reelection to the Senate from New York’s 6th senatorial district," Jacobs said in a statement issued shortly before 5 p.m. Monday.
Minutes later, Thomas issued a statement saying in part: "Following a very close election in 2018, I am thrilled to have won a larger margin this year, and I know that is because of my hard work fighting for this community, Long Island, and all of New York State."
Later Monday, Dunne congratulated Thomas.
"The Senate race in the 6th District was a hard-fought contest, and I am proud of the campaign that we ran. I addressed the issues that are important to neighbors on Long Island and across our state, including public safety and taxes," Dunne said in a statement. "At the same time, the voters have spoken, and I respect their decision. I extend my best wishes to Kevin Thomas as he embarks upon his second term in the New York State Senate."
Election night ended with Dunne holding a 7,387-vote lead.
But in this district — like races up and down the 2020 ticket — voters cast absentee ballots in unprecedented numbers because of the coronavirus pandemic. And Democrats participating in absentee voting far outnumbered Republicans.
Though the absentee numbers haven’t been declared official, it appears Thomas not only benefited from the Democrats’ participation advantage over Republicans, but also he received the bulk of support from independent and minor-party voters.
Democrats are hoping absentees will help them reverse a number of other state legislative races on Long Island. Among them, Sen. James Gaughran (D-Northport) trailed Republican Edmund Smyth by 13,844 after election night. But more than 43,000 absentee ballots had been cast. The district covers parts of Nassau and Suffolk counties and final tabulations probably were to take longer than the Thomas-Dunne contest.