Hoping to pad their narrow majority in the State Senate, Republicans used the redistricting process last year to draw a new, Republican-friendly district in the Albany area. They expected that George A. Amedore Jr., a state assemblyman whose family has a successful home-building business in the capital region, would have no trouble making the jump to the Legislature’s upper house. Democrats sued to block the creation of the seat, but failed. Yet on Friday, 73 days after Election Day, Mr. Amedore conceded defeat to a little-known opponent: Cecilia F. Tkaczyk, a Democrat who, in addition to serving as vice president of the local school board, is also the vice president of the Golden Fleece Spinners and Weavers Guild. Ms. Tkaczyk (pronounced KAT-chik) was ahead by 18 votes — out of more than 126,000 cast — after a batch of contested ballots was counted in Ulster and Albany Counties. (Another uncounted ballot was found in Montgomery County, but it remains unclear whether it will be counted.)
“No one believed our campaign had a chance in a district hand-carved by Republicans,” she said, “and yet the power of good ideas and a strong campaign proved itself.”
Ms. Tkaczyk, from Schenectady County, is a third-generation farmer, and among her hobbies is spinning wool from her flock of Jacob sheep. She, unlike Mr. Amedore, also favors putting in place a system of public financing for state elections; supporters of election reform, including Jonathan Soros, a son of the billionaire financier George Soros, poured money into an independent-expenditure campaign supporting her.
“She ran a great race and was a great candidate,” Jonathan Soros said. “Voters want this reform, and they’re actually willing to vote on it.”