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Kennedy claims victory over Grant; Board of Elections has not yet certified results

Incumbent Timothy M. Kennedy Friday declared victory over his challenger in the Democratic primary in the 63rd State Senate District.

In a hastily called news conference outside Erie County Board of Elections headquarters, Kennedy announced that days of counting have shown his lead over Erie County Legislature Chairwoman Betty Jean Grant is insurmountable.

"When the machines were tabulated, we had a 91-vote lead. Now that all the absentees, emergencies and affidavit ballots have been counted, our lead has grown to 139 votes," he said. "My opponent has only 108 objections at this point. The Board of Elections has confirmed our victory and that I was re-elected as representative to the State Senate, now representing the 63rd District."

The board completed its official count Friday, which included tallying absentee, military and affidavit ballots, filled out by people who were not listed in the voter register. However, Democratic Elections Commissioner Dennis Ward said nothing was official as of Friday.

"We're under a court order not to certify anything," Ward said.

"So what we have done is we have completed, essentially, a mathematical tally, and both candidates have the mathematical tally. I'll leave it up to them to draw their own inferences from it, because the court has issued a stay on us. We were supposed to just go through and do the tally."

Grant was not available for comment.

Meanwhile, Kennedy urged the board to certify the results of the recount "as quickly and expeditiously as possible" to ensure that voters in the district who are currently serving in the military can receive their ballots in time for the general election.

"As we wait to have our victory certified, I have a growing concern that any delay in this process will make it extremely difficult for the Board of Elections to get general election ballots out to military voters on time. It is critical that voters who are in the military protecting this country get their voting ballots on time so that as many people can get out to vote and cast their support in favor of President Obama's re-election," Kennedy said.

For the past two years, Kennedy represented the 58th State Senate District, until the election map was re-drawn. The new 63rd District encompasses parts of Buffalo, Lackawanna and Cheektowaga. It is 33 percent black and 56 percent white. Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Leonard Lenihan has said that those demographics and the turnout on primary day were driving factors in the close results in the race.

Kennedy, on Friday, said he was "humbled to have earned voter support" and "honored to have this opportunity to continue to represent our community in the New York State Senate."

"I congratulate Betty Grant on a hard-fought campaign, and I say to everyone that voted for her that I will work tirelessly over the next two years to earn your vote, to earn your support [and] to earn your trust," Kennedy said.