ELIZABETHTOWN - The race between the candidates for Essex County District Attorney is still too close to call after Election Day.
Unofficial results reported after polls closed Nov. 3 show Republican-backed candidate Kristy Sprague with a 75-vote lead over incumbent Julie Garcia in the county-wide race.
The margin remained close as individual towns reported their counts throughout the evening. With only Minerva and North Elba left to report, the count showed Garcia with a 110-vote lead.
Final tallies gave Sprague a tentative win, however, claiming victory by a margin of 6053 votes to Garcia's 5978.
"It was a close race," said Sprague, "but I won, and I'm very pleased with the result."
Sprague, an Assistant District Attorney in Clinton County, received the endorsement of Essex County Republicans and went on to a narrow victory over fellow Republican Garcia in the party primary, but not before Garcia had secured the endorsement of county Democrats.
"I knew it was going to be tough," Sprague added. "[Garcia's] a four-year incumbent who ran on a major party line, but we won, and I'm happy with that."
The towns of Elizabethtown, Westport, Moriah, Essex, and Schroon all broke heavily in favor of Garcia, but Sprague claimed significant victories in Chesterfield, Ticonderoga, Minerva, Newcomb, North Hudson, and her new hometown of Willsboro.
Sprague said the presence of the Congressional race in the 23rd district contributed heavily to the closeness of the District Attorney race.
"The Democrats definitely got out the vote," she said, surmising that many supporters of candidate Bill Owens also voted for Garcia on the Democratic line.
Garcia has yet to concede, but certainly acknowledged the initial deficit in a race many had painted as a referendum on the decision of Republican party leaders not to back the candidate they had chosen four years prior.
"I'm very proud of our campaign," said Garcia. "People stood up for what they believed in."
Garcia pointed to early results in the race for Essex town supervisor as evidence that the political strength of ranking Essex County Republicans is fading. There, long-time incumbent Ronald Jackson, chair of the county Republican Committee, showed a preliminary loss to challenger Sharon Boisen by a margin of more than five percent.
"When Ron Jackson takes a hit, it speaks volumes for the state of the Republican Party in Essex County," Garcia said. "It shows the unrest in the GOP and that people aren't just going to vote for the person the Republican Party wants them to vote for."
The candidates now await an official result following the count of absentee ballots. There have been 1,167 absentee ballots sent out, of which, at last report, 787 have been collected. The remaining 380 must have been postmarked by Nov. 2, but have until Nov. 10 to be received.
Still, Sprague is confident her victory will stand.
"I think that once the absentee ballots are counted, they will increase our margin further," she said, adding that her campaign has actively targeted absentee voters.