Republican Congressman Chris Jacobs, who won a special election for New York’s 27th Congressional District less than five months ago, declared he had won a full term Tuesday night, saying he was confident absentee ballots would not change the outcome of the race.
Jacobs has won 65% of the more than 260,000 votes counted, while Democratic challenger Nate McMurray has just 30%, according to state election data as of early Wednesday morning.
“We can safely say that we won this election and won it handily,” said Jacobs while standing with a small group of supporters at the Avant building in downtown Buffalo, where the Erie County Republican Committee was headquartered for Election Night.
Despite Jacobs' declarations, there’s still thousands of mail-in ballots yet to be counted, a process that could take several weeks in New York state.
Mail-in ballots greatly helped McMurray during the June special election between him and Jacobs. Jacobs had a 40-point lead over McMurray the night of the special election, but that lead was cut down to just five points once mail-in ballots were counted.
However, Jacobs said it’s simply mathematically impossible for McMurray to catch up this time. Jacobs, who is currently up by about 90,000 votes, said he believes there’s only about 56,0000 mail-in ballots left to be counted.
“So even if every single absentee goes his way, which will never happen, he still will not prevail,” said Jacobs, adding he had yet to speak with McMurray. “He'll have to make the decision when he wants to come to that reality, but I felt it was important to make the announcement. I would not be up here saying this unless I felt very, very comfortable.”
McMurray, who also challenged then-Congressman Chris Collins for the heavily red district and narrowly lost in 2018, refused to concede to Jacobs Tuesday night at the Local 686, United Auto Workers hall in Lockport.
"There was a big turnout for the early vote," McMurray said. "I don't know the exact numbers off the top of my head. We were just looking at them downstairs. We're going to have to count them all. There's tens of thousands of absentee ballots that are still outstanding, just like there was in the special election. There's more votes this time than in the special election. We know that."
McMurray said it was part of Jacobs' campaign strategy to declare early victory.
"He didn't want us to count the votes last time, so I urge you in the press that we remember that these are people that want their votes counted and there are tens of thousands of votes out there," McMurray said. "The margin right now is less than it was in the special election. We're back down to single digits."
During his talk to supporters, McMurray blasted President Trump as on the wrong side of history. The Democratic challenger said he is on the right side of the great issues like health care and Black Lives Matter.
Jacobs, a former state senator who was aided in the June GOP primary with an endorsement from Trump, said his priority is reopening the economy safely, and to make sure young people have opportunities to stay in Western New York.
“I want to be part of this great comeback of our region, our comeback of more people living here, more job opportunities coming back here, and we can do that,” he said. “We have a lot of opportunities, I believe, actually, as we transition through COVID. There's some great opportunities that will come about because of that for this region."