Votes were counted down to the bitter end before a winner was declared in City Council District 32, and Republican Councilmember Eric Ulrich has reclaimed his seat.
“This race was a real nail biter,” Ulrich said in front of family and friends on election night.
As the results trickled in, Ulrich and his Democratic opponent, Lew Simon, were nearly 50/50 on votes, according to preliminary numbers.
However, both candidates took to the mic and declared victory to their respective crowds.
“It appears that we have won,” Simon said in Rockaway.
Meanwhile, in Howard Beach, Ulrich assured his constituents that he had “the most up-to-date information” and that he had a “very strong lead.”
“Many of you have been with me since the beginning, and this is not going to end,” said the incumbent.
When Ulrich caught wind that Simon too had called the race in his own favor, he responded, “Rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”
However, Simon’s camp came back and accused Ulrich of adapting the ways of the Tea Party where “losing is winning and less is more.”
Simon and his team are still “status quo,” said Doug Forand, spokesperson for Simon. The group plans to wait until all paper ballots are counted and will respond to those results.
“We defied expectations. Few people thought it would be such a tight race. And the race isn’t over yet. We want to make sure every single vote is properly counted,” Simon said. “I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of support across this district, including from many Republican voters who clearly want a change in leadership.”
According to unofficial results, Ulrich came out on top with 53 percent of the vote and was declared the winner by both the New York Times and the Associated Press.
“I was re-elected by my constituents, and I have a lot of work to do,” said Ulrich, now the only Republican in the Council’s Queens delegation.
He said he will work with the newly elected administration in a bipartisan way, and looks forward to finding out what role he can play in the City Council after a new Speaker is elected.
Regarding any potential role as a Minority Leader in the City Council, Ulrich said it’s “too premature to be talking about leadership roles,” and his time in office still comes second to current Minority Leader James Oddo of Staten Island.
Regardless, during his next term, Ulrich also hopes to revamp the Republican “brand” and work to restore the public’s faith in his party line.
As Ulrich wound down his victory speech, he raised his hands one last time.
“Go to bed tonight and know we kicked Lew Simon’s ass. Let’s have a drink.”