Rep. Andrew Raia was re-elected to his fifth term as an Assemblyman to the 9th District Tuesday night, after his challenger--and political newcomer--Dem. Christopher Dempsey conceded the race early on.
"It's a great night to be a Republican," Raia told his party's crowded ballroom at the Long Island Sheraton on Election night.
Raia garnered nearly 70 percent of the votes and got off to a commanding lead when just several election district numbers were tallied.
He made a very short victory speech following a concession phone call from Dempsey, who said simply that he wished Raia well and offered him congratulations.
"Apparently he was going around saying nice things about me and I was going around saying nice things about him," Raia said. "These negative campaigns are damaging. Candidates should run on the issues."
Prior to Dempsey's phone call at approximately 10 p.m., with only a handful of election districts reporting, Raia said that he was reluctant to declare victory, but said he was looking forward to the opportunity to get back to work in Albany.
Raia said his first priority would be reforming Medicaid and to get the state budget approved on time.
"An on-time budget is always important. That's always good for constituents," Raia said. "But we have to find a way to close the budget gap. We're going to have to raise a lot of revenue. That's why we have to reform Medicaid."
He lauded his opponent's record of volunteerism, but said he tries to focus on his own record in every election.
"Here's the deal, I run elections based on what I'm doing not what my opponent does," Raia said.
He said that, while it might be nice to not have to run for re-election every two years, it does keep him in touch with his constituents.
"I'm out there, meeting voters, talking to voters, listening to voters," Raia said. "It keeps me grounded."