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In upset, Rachel May unofficially defeats Dave Valesky in state Senate Democratic primary

Rachel May is seen on election night (CNYCentral Photo)

After serving central New York for nearly 14 years, Democratic state Sen. David Valesky was defeated by progressive candidate Rachel May in Thursday's Democratic primary for New York's 53rd state Senate district.

May narrowly defeated Valesky 50.5 percent to 46.7 percent with 100 percent of precincts reporting, according to the New York State Board of Elections.

May has yet to declare victory and Valesky has yet to concede as of Friday morning.

"This is a moment in our country when we are all being called to step up," May said at a celebration in Syracuse. "President Obama has said we gotta strap on our boots and march. We have to do whatever we have to do to take our democracy back and make it be the country that we love again."

The 53rd Senate District covers the city of Syracuse and parts of Onondaga, Madison and Oneida counties. May won Onondaga and Oneida counties — the latter of which Valesky lives in — while Valesky carried Madison County.

Valesky, who has represented New York's 49th and then 53rd state Senate District since 2005, was a ranking member of a group of rogue Democrats in the New York state Legislature that broke with their party to back Republican control of the state Senate several years ago.

The so-called Independent Democratic Conference, or IDC, folded early this year but all eight of its former members faced opponents in Thursday's Democratic primary.

In total, six of the eight members were defeated in Democratic primaries on Thursday, including its leader, state Sen. Jeff Klein, of Bronx. Valesky was the IDC's deputy leader.

The challengers said the IDC enabled the party of Donald Trump to block votes on liberal priorities such as gun control, abortion rights and help for immigrants.

"The #noIDC New York group and #trueblue groups that have done just huge efforts to get the word out, to make sure people understand what their elected officials are doing," May said. "That's been really important."

Valesky released a statement to CNYCentral saying:

First, I’d like to congratulate Rachel on a spirited race. Obviously, the count is very close, but there is a process to ensure that every vote is counted. That process starts tomorrow. As that progresses, I’m going to consult with my family to see what the next step is.

If May declares victory, she will go on to face Republican opponent Janet Burman in November.



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