Former Westchester County legislator Peter Harckham declared victory Thursday night in his Democratic primary battle against Robert Kesten in the 40th state Senate race.
The former county lawmaker, watching results come in at his Mount Kisco campaign headquarters, garnered 52 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results, to move onto the general election against two-term Republican incumbent Terrence Murphy. Harckham declared victory even though Kesten said he was “definitely not” conceding Thursday night. With the margin of victory only about four percentage points, Kesten said he wanted the absentee ballots counted.
Harckham, who entered the race in May after a couple of other potential candidates decided against a run, touted his experience as a former Westchester legislator and former staffer in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration. Arguing he had the best chance to beat Murphy in November, Harckham boasted many endorsements from lawmakers, including state reps, town and village elected officials, and most importantly, from Cuomo.
“This has been a whirlwind of a four months, the numbers are in, the numbers look really, really good and we’re comfortable enough to declare that we won this primary and we’re moving on to take on Terrence Murphy,” Hackham said.
Kesten, who announced his intention to seek the seat more than a year ago, ran to the left, advocating for positions such as statewide universal healthcare. He pointed to an energized base that could help him get over the top against Murphy.
“I don’t feel terrible at all, I don’t feel bad at all,” Kesten said. “I think that we made a point and I think what has become clear is what needs to be done. So for me, it’s sort of becoming energizing rather than defeating because what we fought for, what we worked for I still believe in.”
Both had already pledged to support the winner of the primary, stressing the ultimate goal is to dispose of Murphy and turn the state Senate into a Democratic controlled branch of state government.
The district encompasses parts of northern Westchester, Putnam and southern Dutchess counties.
This article will be updated as more information becomes available.