Assembly 21 race is a true toss-up

A week later, Griffin and Curran waited on Assembly vote count

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Election night has come and gone, but the race for the 21st Assembly District seat still remains undecided.

Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, the incumbent Democrat, and Brian Curran, her Republican challenger, and predecessor, remained neck-and-neck as Nassau County election officials continued counting ballots this week, trying to determine who will represent the district in Albany next year.

Curran continues to hold a slim lead as the Herald went to press on Tuesday, but that lead is shrinking as more absentee ballots are being tallied.

Many voters said they were surprised and upset that a winner had yet to be declared, over a week after the election.

“It leads to speculation that if you can’t accurately count ballots in a small area within a few hours,” Steve Rakeman, of Rockville Centre, said. “I would think that it leads to speculation that someone is playing games with them.”

Others, however, said they felt that taking the necessary time to ensure that the vote was calculated correctly was a good thing.

“It looked like she had lost to him and now it looks like she’s doing OK,” Maryanne Pedersen, of Rockville Centre, said of Griffin. “So there’s no bias in this process. It keeps swinging back and forth based on the votes.”

“I’m really excited, and I’d like to thank everyone for coming out to vote,” Curran said on Tuesday, one week after the polls officially closed. “I feel confident in the votes that are left, and hopefully we will receive an outcome shortly.”

“This campaign has never been about me, but about listening to and delivering for the amazing communities I’ve been so fortunate to advocate for up in Albany — and I am not done yet,” she said. “I have never taken any vote for granted, and campaigned into the final hour on Election night for that reason. I am so deeply appreciative of the tireless volunteers and local leaders that helped our campaign outperform all expectations in a very difficult climate.”

Absentee ballots were still arriving early this week.

“I believe in American democracy and we all must ensure that every valid ballot is counted,” Griffin said. “Let no one doubt the power of a single vote.”

Since her post last week, her campaign manager, Kevin Brady, told the Herald that the gap between her and Curran may be even smaller, dropping to 244, according to the county Board of Elections. And that gap may be even smaller still as Griffin now finds herself 158 votes shy of tying with Curran according to a second statement released by her campaign team Nov. 17.

Brady referred to the outcome as a “to-be-determined game,” noting that Assembly District 21 has typically been a close battleground, and that Griffin was faring much better than her Democratic counterparts who had already conceded other races across the county.

Griffin and her family have lived in Rockville Centre for 30 years, and her legislative offices are in the village. She previously served as director of community outreach for former State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, and is a published author and an integrated health coach.

Curran was the mayor of Lynbrook from 2007 to 2010. He was elected to the Assembly in 2010, and held the seat for eight years, defeating Democratic challengers Dermond Thomas, Jeffrey Friedman, Adam Shapiro and Travis Bourgeois.

Griffin defeated Curran in 2018, becoming the first Democrat to hold the seat in more than 40 years. She was re-elected in 2020, beating Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick — who last week was elected to the State Senate.