ALBANY—Saratoga County Republican chairman Jasper Nolan was planning to be in New York City last night for the annual Republican dinner, but it the end, he didn't make it. He was busy coordinating the Assemblyman Jim Tedisco increasingly grim-looking fight to win a recount in his House race.
The most recent developments, which have tilted in the direction of Democratic candidate Scott Murphy, are reflected in the respective tones of each side's statements.
"Let me put it in this direction: we're cautiously optimistic," Nolan said Thursday morning, the day after a judge ruled that most of the contested ballots will be opened, and as Murphy continued to hold on to a lead of several dozen votes. There are at least 1,200 unopened absentee ballots, most of which were set aside at the request of Republicans, and most of which were probably cast for Murphy.
"We don't know where these votes are going to go," Nolan said. "It's a guesstimate, but if he's only up by 80, we have a shot. We've got to hope that these contested ballots will lean our way. I'm not out of the realm of thinking that it's no-shot—I'm cautiously optimistic."
On election night, Tedisco said he was confident that "when the smoke clears, we will have won a tremendous victory." Wednesday, before the judges ruling, Fred Dicker asked him on WGDJ Talk 1300 whether he expected to lose or win.
"It's a dead heat right now," Tedisco said. "You've probably seen what we've asked for, which is to have every single person who voted, especially our military personnel, have the opportunity to have their ballots counted."
He has called on Attorney General
Erik Eric Holder to extend a deadline by which ballots from military votes must be received. There is no indication the request will be granted.
Democrats, by contrast, have begun to apply pressure to wrap things up.
"Jim, you lost. Be a good loser," said Tom Poelker, chairman of the Greene County Democratic Party. "With the Saratoga votes in, there's no way in hell he can overcome that."
"I think it's all but over, and if Tedisco would think about the people and the full constituency regardless of their political persuasion, to stop this ridiculous challenge," he said.
June O'Neill, chair of the state Democratic party, was in court Wednesday. This morning, she said "I think that Mr. Tedisco and his people have been delaying the inevitable for quite some time."
"These are extraordinary times," she added. "It's never a good time to be without a representative, but media outlets have pointed out that stimulus money is not flowing into the 20th because of a lack of a representative."
National Democratic Party figures are mostly staying out of things for now, but there are rumblings that might be coming next. During a speech in Schenectady, former D.N.C. chairman Howard Dean said that "from a national point of view, the Democrats have already won."
On Tuesday, I spoke with Representative Steve Israel, who helped recruit Murphy to run for the seat.
"Scott called me yesterday," he said. "He's upbeat and he should be. Because he's winning."