New York Republican Claudia Tenney will be certified as the winner in the race to represent the state’s 22nd Congressional District, according to a ruling from the state Supreme Court on Friday.
The decision by State Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte ordering counties and the state elections board to certify her victory ends a three-month legal battle with another House flip for Republicans, whittling the Democratic majority to 221-212. Tenney will unseat first-term Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D).
DelConte panned local elections boards for “systemic violations of state and federal election law,” including the Oneida County’s failure to process more than 2,400 voter applications. However, the judge ruled it is not the court’s job to rectify those errors.
“Every single valid vote that was cast in New York’s 22nd Congressional District has been accounted for, and counted,” DelConte wrote.
The judge also decided that Brindisi did not prove that certifying Tenney's win would cause “irreparable harm” given that he has further avenues to fight the certification in court.
Brindisi has already said he could appeal the ruling, and he also has the option of contesting the results of the election directly to the House. He said there should be a recount and audit after what he said were "countless errors and discrepancies" in the initial count.
"I believe a full audit and hand recount is the only way to resolve this race. With the margin so thin, the ever changing tally, and the countless errors that have occurred arriving at today’s final number we can’t afford to wonder here," he said. "It’s shocking, right now, no one knows who actually won this race. My opponent and I deserve true clarity.”
Tenney is currently leading Brindisi by 109 votes and has a 0.035 percent lead. She first won the seat in 2016 but lost it to Brindisi in 2018, when Democrats had a wave election cycle. Her victory would bring the number of Republican women in the House to 30, a jump from just 13 after the 2018 midterms.
"I’m honored to have won this race. It was a hard-fought campaign and I thank Anthony Brindisi for his service. Now that every legal vote has been counted, it’s time for the results to be certified. The voters need a voice in Congress, and I look forward to getting to work on behalf of New York's 22nd Congressional District," Tenney said in a statement.
The ruling Friday underscored the success Republicans had at the House level in the 2020 cycle. While observers had predicted the GOP to lose as many as 15 members, the GOP ultimately flipped more than a dozen seats.
Republicans rejoiced over the victory.
“Claudia is a proven fighter for upstate New York who will pick up right where she left off delivering bipartisan solutions for her district,” said Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “I am delighted to welcome Claudia back to Washington and look forward to working alongside her once again.”
“It only took 94 days, but Claudia Tenney has finally been declared the winner in #NY22. It’s about time,” tweeted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). “That’s the 15th House seat that Republicans flipped, and she joins 18 other women to set the record for our largest female freshman class ever.
“Excited to add another GOP woman to our ranks to push back against Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s liberal agenda and fight for our conservative values!” added Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa), who also flipped a Democratic seat in November.
The victory is particularly significant for the GOP at a time when the House is so narrowly divided. Democrats have barely any margin for error as the party looks to pass significant pieces of legislation, including President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
The win also puts the GOP five seats away from reclaiming the majority in 2022.
Tenney could potentially face an uphill battle for reelection next year. Democrats control all levers of power in the state government and could redraw her district to either make it more Democratic or lump it with that of Rep. Elise Stefanik (R), pitting the two Republicans against each other.