Court clears way for GOP’s Claudia Tenney to recapture seat from Democrat Anthony Brindisi

New York district was the last uncalled race of the 2020 House battle

A judge Friday cleared the way for former Rep. Claudia Tenney, shown leaving a 2018 meeting of the House GOP, to retake her seat from Democrat Anthony Brindisi, who plans further appeals. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
A judge Friday cleared the way for former Rep. Claudia Tenney, shown leaving a 2018 meeting of the House GOP, to retake her seat from Democrat Anthony Brindisi, who plans further appeals. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted February 5, 2021 at 5:22pm, Updated at 6:13pm

A New York judge cleared the way Friday for Republican former Rep. Claudia Tenney to officially be declared the winner of the 22nd District seat in New York that she lost in 2018 to Democrat Anthony Brindisi. 

The ruling in the final uncalled race in the November election came after a marathon battle that stretched over three months and involved numerous court hearings and exhaustive searches for uncounted ballots or official errors that would change the outcome of the razor-thin election. 

But even with Tenney headed to Congress, the resolution is still unclear. Brindisi has said that he would appeal in state court and seek to contest the results in the House. 

Tenney, an attorney who represented the district from 2017 to 2019, was ahead by 109 votes when State Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte removed a restraining order that had prevented final certification of the race, according to Syracuse.com. 

The race is one of two House contests that has been mired in legal and administrative arguments since the November election. In Iowa’s 2nd District, another swing district, Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks was seated in January after winning her race by just 6 votes. Her opponent, Democrat Rita Hart, has petitioned the House Administration Committee to count additional votes. The committee has not scheduled a hearing on that challenge. 

Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, the ranking Republican member of the House administration committee, told CQ Roll Call Friday that the Democrats who control the House majority had been “coy” about their intentions regarding the two races. He said it would be hypocritical for Democrats to overturn the certified results of the two races after complaining about Republican challenges to President Joe Biden’s win in the White House. 

“They have shown nothing but politics and partisanship this entire Congress,” he said. 

Brindisi would be the 13th incumbent House Democrat, and the second from New York, to lose his or her seat to the GOP in 2020. Overall, Democrats lost a net 11 seats from the 116th Congress; no Republican House incumbents were defeated. 

In the New York race, the result hinged on hundreds of contested absentee and affidavit ballots. Lawyers for Brindisi had argued that ballots that had been rejected for technical violations or clerical errors should be counted. Tenney’s lawyers argued that the count should adhere to the “established law” that resulted in the rejection of those ballots. 

The margin separating the two candidates seesawed numerous times as the count was subjected to repeated reviews. 

Attorneys for Brindisi had asked DelConte to delay final certification of the election while he appealed the judge’s rulings involving several hundred contested ballots, according to local news reports. But DelConte ruled that Brindisi did not provide enough evidence that seating Tenney while he appealed would cause “irreparable harm” since he could still contest the election at a federal level, Syracuse.com reported.