SARATOGA SPRINGS - Upstate New Yorkers can now breathe a sigh of relief.
The flood of competing political attack ads on television are now history.
The contentious, expensive campaign for the New York 20th Congressional District seat is over.
But the suspense isn't.
Glens Falls-based Venture Capitalist Scott Murphy and state Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco are now deadlocked in an election that was considered too close to call Tuesday.
The results will now hinge on a painstaking count of impounded paper and absentee ballots under the oversight of a judge - a process that is expected to take about three weeks before results are certified.
In this hard-fought election, Tedisco closed a four-percentage-point deficit in the most recent poll, advancing to a mere 59 votes shy of Murphy's tally. The unofficial count stands at 77,344 for Murphy, 77,285 for Tedisco.
In Murphy's election- night headquarters at the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs, vote returns at about 10:15 p.m. showed Murphy with a 2,100 vote lead - and well over 1,200 of his supporters were celebrating.
They had come expecting an upset victory over Tedisco, an established veteran politician, after the Siena Research Institute poll released four days earlier showed Murphy with the lead of 47 percent to 43 percent lead.
But at about 10:45 p.m., the vote count was within just several dozen votes, and the cheers subsided.
Across town in the Holiday Inn, Tedisco jumped onto the stage - about a half-hour earlier than his opponent - and predicted that the outstanding absentee and military votes, which traditionally favor Republicans - would give him a winning margin.
"Nobody gave us a chance after the Democrats brought in every heavy hitter they had like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Schumer, and President Obama," he said pumping his fist in the air to a cheering crowd. "I stood up to them on my own two feet, like I'll do in Washington for my constituents."
Tedisco privately said the reason for his eleventh-hour comeback was due to an election-day calling blitz to get every last supporter of his out to the polls.
A half-hour later at the Gideon Putnam ballroom, Murphy pressed through the crowd - which shouted "Go Scott, go" in unison - stepping onto the stage with Gillibrand.
Greeting the cheering crowd as if he'd won, Murphy said he'd be working to accomplish three objectives as Congressman.
"We can create good jobs in upstate New York, we can turn this economy around, and we can promise a better future for our kids," he said.
The crowd responded with chants of the Obama slogan "Yes, we can."
The new president and his policies were prominent in Murphy's speech.
In the last several weeks, Washington D.C. political observers said this race in upstate New York would provide the nation with a referendum of sorts on Obama's performance to date.
In his speech, Murphy at times sounded like he was stumping for Obama.
"Today, the voters said, 'We do approve of what Barack Obama is doing,'" he said, evoking cheers. "They said, 'Our kids will be able to stay here and pursue their dreams in this District.'"`
Although neither candidate declared they won the race outright, both sounded at times like they were claiming victory.
Murphy said he'd bring common-sense solutions to Washington.
"I'm so excited to be in the position to go to Washington and fight on behalf of workers for better wages, better health care and better retirement, Murphy told cheering union members in the crowd.
He said he'd work jointly with Republicans to restore the economy and lower taxes.
"We can work together to create jobs for the next generation," he said. "And we need to take bold action like Obama's Economic Recovery Plan."
Tedisco said that he'd also be working in a bipartisan spirit for the hard-working middle class, and not the wealthy nor lobbyists.
"If this vote trend holds up, we'll be moving forward on an agenda that puts our upstate economy on the road to recovery, and not advance the special interests of any particular party," he said. "I will keep these promises."
Approaching midnight, Tedisco was still greeting well-wishers.
He said that Murphy put up a good fight, and that if he doesn't overtake Murphy in the absentee-ballot count, he'll be happy working in the state Assembly as he has been for 26 years.
"I love my job," he said.
Just two months ago, Tedisco, well-known in a district that is heavily tilted toward Republicans, enjoyed a 20 percentage-point lead over Murphy.
But the lead disappeared as the two criss-crossed the district campaigning and the two ran hundreds of advertisements on area television stations, attacking each other.
In the Republican ads attacking Murphy, he was portrayed as a an Wall-Street sympathizer who paid millions in bonuses to CEOs of failed businesses, voted for wasteful federal spending, supported ballooning government debt, and funded a business in India rather than investing at home.
In the Democratic ads trashing Tedisco, he was painted as a career politician who had hung out with shady supporters, awarded lucrative jobs to campaign contributors, refused to support job creation, and had voted against tax cuts.
Four days before the election, a Siena Research Institute poll showed that Murphy had 47-43 percentage-point lead over Tedisco, the identical lead that Tedisco enjoyed over Murphy just four weeks earlier.
This special election was held to fill the vacated Congressional seat of Kirsten Gillibrand, who was elevated to the position of U.S. Senator after Obama chose Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.