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Lally edges Labate to take GOP race

By Kelsey Durham

After more than three weeks of waiting, Grant Lally was declared the winner last week of a June 24 congressional Republican primary and will move on in his quest to unseat U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville) in November.

The state Board of Elections certified the Long Island-based attorney as the victor over his opponent, Stephen Labate, by just 11 votes. The declaration of a winner comes after weeks of counting absentee ballots and waiting to see if the race would be decided in court.

But a lawsuit filed by Labate’s campaign in objection to absentee ballots earlier this month was later dropped and counting was allowed to continue.

Lally was certified as the winner one week later, receiving 3,439 total votes while Labate took in 3,428. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Labate posted a message to his campaign’s website Monday that said he was choosing to withdraw from the election rather than ask for a recount, despite a “razor-thin margin” of 11 votes.

“A prolonged legal battle would be damaging to the Republican Party and would only benefit Congressman Steve Israel,” Labate said. “The goal now is to defeat Congressman Israel in November and I wish my opponent luck in achieving this goal.”

Though Labate won two of the three counties represented by the district, Queens and Nassau, Lally secured enough votes in Suffolk County to pull away as the winner.

The third congressional district where Lally will challenge Israel represents the Queens neighborhoods of Little Neck, Douglaston, Whitestone and Bay Terrace.

In a race that failed to deliver much turnout in Queens, the highest number of votes came from Nassau County, where 3,759 total votes were cast — 1,981 for Labate and 1,778 for Lally. Suffolk County reported 2,360 total votes, with Labate receiving 1,066 and Lally taking in 1,294.

Poll workers in Queens county saw just 748 voters on Election Day, with 381 voting for Labate and 367 voting in favor of Lally.

After Labate conceded and Lally was declared the winner, Israel issued a statement congratulating him and said he was looking forward to a campaign that would outline “stark contrasts.”

“While I’ve spent my career fighting for middle-class families, Mr. Lally has spent his career opposing choice, undermining Medicare and weakening Social Security,” Israel said.

The general election will take place Nov. 4. Lally, who is also set to run on the Conservative ticket, posted a message to his campaign’s Facebook page last week stating that he is working to gain enough signatures to put his name on the Libertarian ticket, as well.

Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at kdurham@cnglocal.com.

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