It looks like Queens Democrats aren’t losing a seat in Albany after all.
State Assemblymember Edward Braunstein (D-Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Bayside Hills, Broadway-Flushing, Douglaston, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, North Shore Towers, Oakland Gardens, Whitestone) announced his win in the tight Assembly District 26 race on Sunday after overtaking his Republican opponent in the absentee ballot count.
“Now that the absentee ballots have been counted, I am proud to report that I have won re-election and will continue to represent the people of the 26th Assembly District,” Braunstein said.
Preliminary results showed Republican candidate John-Alexander Sakelos as having a 5 point lead after in-person voting with more than 14,000 absentee ballots outstanding. But, after a week of tallying up absentee ballots, Democratic incumbent Braunstein won 75% of the mail-in ballots and has taken the lead by 5,000 votes as of Nov. 15, Braunstein said.
In a press conference held outside of Queens Borough Hall a few days before the start of the absentee ballot count, the Queens County Democratic Party reminded people of what they called the “red mirage” –– the appearance of Republican wins on election night because of the increase in absentee ballots.
“The red mirage was long predicted for months. And it is exactly what we’re seeing now where it seems like in one or two cases Republicans have more than the Democratic candidate,” said State Senator John Liu (D-Northeast Queens) during the press conference. “That is a mirage caused by the Democrats who urged New Yorkers to cast their ballots early, and to request and send in their absentee ballots.”
Sakelos was one of three Republicans in tight races for offices in Queens the day after Election Day.
Sakelos did not respond to requests for comment for this story. But, the day after Election Day he told Queens County Politics that he was confident he would maintain his lead and win the election.
Currently, City Councilmember Eric Ulrich (D-Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Rockaway Park, Roxbury, South Ozone Park, West Hamilton Beach, Woodhaven) is the only sitting Republican elected official in the borough.