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More Votes To Be Counted In Tight Race For Dean Skelos' Senate Seat

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- More ballots are expected to be be counted in Nassau County Wednesday to determine who has won the tight race for former Republican leader Dean Skelos' seat in the Senate.

Republican Chris McGrath and Democrat Todd Kaminsky were vying in Tuesday's special election to replace Skelos, the former Republican Senate leader convicted of corruption last year. The election was one of four elections to fill empty legislative seats Tuesday, also the day of the New York presidential primary.

On Tuesday night both candidates were claiming victory, even though race remained too close to call.

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Unofficial totals showed Kaminsky with 50 percent of the vote just before midnight, ahead of McGrath by less than 800 votes. Absentee votes had yet to be counted at the time, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

The Democratic Commissioner of the Nassau County Board Of Elections is heading to court Wednesday to start the process on certifying the election results, in order to avoid a fight over the tight final count.

In the campaign leading up to the election, Kaminsky, a state assemblyman and former prosecutor, based his platform on a government for the people, receiving an endorsement from President Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton. 

"I can't wait to go up there and work as hard as I can on your behalf," Kaminsky said in a speech Tuesday night.

But until every ballot is in, the 9th Senate District seat still hangs in the balance, along with the Senate majority, with each party holding 31 seats each.

"It came down to the wire, we're going to poll this out," Kaminsky said.

McGrath is counting on every vote after receiving more than $1 million in campaign donations. The former attorney was endorsed by 14 police unions.

On Tuesday, McGrath said he was convinced that voters want a Republican-run senate to balance the Democratic majority in the state assembly.

"Hopefully when everything is counted we're going to prevail," McGrath said.

Whichever candidate wins this special election will have to run again in November if they look to secure a two-year term.

Meanwhile, voters in Lower Manhattan chose a replacement Tuesday night for disgraced former state Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver.

Democrat Alice Cancel was the projected winner in the race. With all precincts reporting, Cancel had 41 percent of the vote, compared with 35 percent for Working Families Party candidate Yuh-Line Niou.

Silver, 72, was convicted in November in a $5 million corruption case. Prosecutors say he traded favors to enrich himself and then lied about it.

Sheldon is scheduled to be sentenced May 3.

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