Braunstein trails in Assembly race with nearly 15,000 votes left to count

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Edward Braunstein (L), John-Alexander Sakelos (R)

While nearly all incumbents in the Queens delegation of the New York State Senate and Assembly appear to be headed toward reelection, one northeast Queens Assemblyman faces a slim deficit against a Republican challenger Wednesday morning.

Following Tuesday’s in-person voting, New York State Assemblyman Edward Braunstein was down nearly 1,800 votes against Republican challenger John-Alexander Sakelos in Assembly District 26.

Sakelos, a Bayside native who ran on the Republican, Conservative and Save Our City party lines, held 19,599 votes, with nearly 97 percent of scanners reported, as of 11 a.m., on Wednesday, Oct. 4. He “cautiously” declared victory on social media late Tuesday night.

“We are cautiously optimistic that the people of the 26th Assembly District have elected me to represent them in the State Assembly,” Sakelos said in a statement. “I am humbled by their trust. This is a resounding victory for the people of the 26th; the cry for new leadership is heard loud and clear.”

However, the outcome of the race is far from determined.

The Board of Elections received 14,563 absentee ballots from voters in the assembly district, the sum of which won’t be counted until early next week. Around 9,200 of those ballots are from registered Democrats, while about 1,900 of them are from Republicans and Conservatives.

“Once the thousands of Democrats have their votes counted and their voices heard, we are confident Edward Braunstein will be returning to the Assembly,” Braunstein’s campaign said in a statement.

Braunstein has served in the Assembly – representing Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside Hills, Broadway-Flushing, Douglaston, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, North Shore Towers, Oakland Gardens and Whitestone – since 2011. In 2018, the lawmaker faced a challenge from Republican candidate David Bressler, but ended up winning a little over 65 percent of the vote.

In an interview with QNS last week, Sakelos citied Braunstein’s near decade in the Assembly as a reason for change.

“I think the goal of the state Legislature is to get different sorts of talent and people from all walks of life to tackle the issues facing our state,” Sakelos said. “There’s no reason we should have the same 150 lawmakers going to Albany to represent us when they’re serving the same special interest groups.”

The Bayside native is an actor, professor, researcher and writer. This is his first bid for public office.

For more on Tuesday’s election, click here.