Democrat Terry Gipson, who is expected to win a Senate seat currently held by Republican Sen. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, said today that he will be a member of the Senate Democratic Conference and will not join the coalition between Senate Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference.
“I’m a Democrat. I was elected as a Democrat. I’m going to conference with Democrats. It’s the right choice for me, and I think it’s an exciting choice,” Gipson told Gannett’s Albany Bureau at the Capitol.
Gipson was in Albany today with other newly elected Senate Democrats as part of their first orientation at the Capitol. There are six new Senate Democrats.
Gipson held a 1,181-vote lead over Saland, and Saland indicated last night that he won’t contest the counting of the remaining votes — a sign that he’s likely to concede when the count is finished.
Gipson said he was pleased that Saland, who was first elected to the Senate in 1990, is dropping his legal challenges to some of the roughly 12,000 absentee and affidavit ballots that were cast. Gipson declared victory on Election Day.
“We do want to have every vote counted. That’s incredibly important to us. And we are glad that senator has dropped his lawsuit and is now allowing that to occur,” Gipson said.
He said having the results official would “give us more access to information that we need to make sure that we can better serve the people.”
Updated: The Dutchess County Board of Elections said they got the go-ahead this afternoon to finish the count with objections from election lawyers on both sides. The count is expected to be finished by tomorrow afternoon, said commissioner Fran Knapp.
As for sticking with the Democratic conference, Gipson said he pledged to the public that he will work with all parties, and he said he can best accomplish that with Senate Democrats. The GOP and IDC coalition will have a majority of votes in the 63-seat Senate, leaving the Senate Democrats in the minority.
Other newly elected Democrats have also stuck with the party.
“It’s important for me to keep that pledge and after sort of assessing all the various ins and outs of what’s going on in the last few weeks, it’s become clear to me that the Democratic conference offers really the best opportunity to keep that,” Gipson said. “It’s a new conference with an enormous amount of new members, more new members than any other conference. It’s the freshest place to be in Albany right now, in terms of a new start, new direction, new vision. There’s a lot of energy there about making those things happen, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”