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November 7, 2012

Seward staves off challenger

State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, said he “overwhelmingly’’ defeated challenger Howard Leib, D-Dryden, to represent a newly configured 51st District in the general election Tuesday.

Seward said with 83 percent of the precincts reporting, he won 57,330 votes, or 69 percent, to Leib’s 25,369 votes, or 31 percent.

The new 51st Senate District, the result of state legislative boundaries being redrawn this year, comprises parts of Ulster, Delaware, Herkimer, Chenango, Tompkins and Cayuga counties and all of Schoharie, Otsego and Cortland counties.

Seward, 61, who has served in the Senate for 26 years, expressed gratitude for the “overwhelming’’ support of voters. He ran on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines.

“I’m as excited as the first day of my first term,’’ Seward said late Tuesday night. “I’m very gratified to have such an overwhelming victory.’’

Seward said Leib ran a spirited race, which gave candidates opportunities to identify their priorities.

Leib said he challenged Seward not to win but to air issues and avoid a coronation of a career politician.

“I’m very happy with how we did,’’ Leib said late Tuesday. “Whatever the final numbers, we’re all winners — this is the beginning of the process, not the end.’’

Leib said he didn’t know if campaigning and elected office would be in his future but he expected to be involved somehow in two years. Leib, 54, was on the Democratic and Working Families lines.

Other unofficial results reported from county boards of election were:

— In Schoharie County, Seward won 8,985 votes to Leib’s 2,498 votes.

— In Otsego, Seward won 15,152 and Leib had 5,973 votes.

— In Delaware, Seward won 6,239 to Leib’s 2,950.

— In Chenango, Seward won 3,777 to Leib’s 1,107.

— In Cortland, Seward won 11,596, to Leib’s 5,104.

— In Herkimer, Seward won 13, 601, to Leib’s 3,777.

— In Tompkins, Seward won 5,656, to Leib’s 5,262.

Seward, during the campaign, said his priorities include job creation and economic development, as well as providing more property tax relief to residents.

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