SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Tech entrepreneur Brandon Williams has been elected to Congress in a district in central New York, becoming the 11th Republican to win a House race this fall in a state where Democrats usually dominate.
Williams defeated Democrat Francis Conole in the contest to pick a successor to U.S. Rep. John Katko, a Republican who is retiring from office.
He had declared victory last week, but the gap between the two candidates was small and The Associated Press was unable to call a winner until late Monday.
A Texas native and devout Christian, Williams is almost certain to be a more conservative voice in Washington than Katko, a moderate Republican who prized bipartisanship and was able to win repeatedly in a swing district.
Williams opposes abortion rights, though he promised during the campaign not to vote for a national ban if elected.
His win caps a remarkable midterm election for New York Republicans, who came up short in campaigns for statewide offices, like governor, but outperformed their national colleagues in U.S. House races.
Democrats had hoped to win as many as 22 of the state’s 26 seats in the House by gerrymandering the boundaries of congressional districts to their advantage. But maps passed by the legislature were tossed out be the courts. A new political map drawn by a court-appointed expert had the goal of creating as many competitive races as possible.
Republicans seized the opportunity — winning upstate seats, holding on to one seat in New York City, sweeping all four seats on Long Island and flipping two seats previously held by Democrats northwest of the city.
The 11 seats the GOP is set to hold in the next New York congressional delegation is the most the party has had since 2001-2003, when 12 representatives from the state were Republicans. Back then, the state had 31 seats in Congress, compared to the 26 it will have next year.
Williams was a first-time candidate who lived outside the district, which includes the city of Syracuse. He is a U.S. Navy veteran who moved to the region full time several years ago.