Nate Shinagawa steamrolled Tuesday to secure the Democratic nomination for the 23rd Congressional District, which includes Chautauqua County for the first time in a decade.
The primary election win for the Tompkins County legislator and hospital administrator sets up a showdown with incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, in the Nov. 6 general election.
Shinagawa won 55 percent of the votes over fellow Democratic candidates Leslie Danks Burke, an attorney from Ithaca, and Melissa Dobson, an attorney and educator from Owego.
"It's been absolutely amazing," Shinagawa said to The Post-Journal late Tuesday after it was announced he had secured the nomination. "I'm so honored to have the support of Chautauqua County and the rest of the district. We took this campaign to every area in the district we could. We we're building up our message and the people were excited."
The Ithaca resident was dominant in Chautauqua County, receiving 65 percent of the votes.
Out of 27,344 registered Democrats in the county, 1,585 cast their votes Tuesday. Shinagawa received 1,026 votes; Danks Burke received 447; and Dobson gathered 112.
As was predicted, voter turnout locally was low. According to a Board of Elections worker located at the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena, only 21 votes by county Democrats and Republicans were cast by 7:30 p.m., an hour and a half before polls closed.
"We were hoping for 10 percent turnout, but it looks like we got 5 percent countywide," said Norm Green, county Democratic elections commissioner. "It was our worst-case scenario. ... Many people were used to the primary in September; we also had people with pretty low profile, certainly not household names. It was difficult for people to get interested."
Shinagawa was heavily backed by several county Democratic committees, including Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Chemung, Steuben and Tompkins counties. He also received numerous endorsements from local mayors, township supervisors and legislators.
By 11 p.m., Danks Burke conceded the race and called Shinagawa to congratulate him.
"Well it was a great race on all fronts," said Danks Burke. "I congratulated Nate and Melissa on a great race. All three of us brought national attention to the race, and we are going to move on and support Nate."
The race is now on between Shinagawa and Reed, one that has been labeled an "Emerging Race" by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Asked what his message for Reed was, Shinagawa said, "My message for Tom Reed is, Tom Reed should stop focusing on billionaires and start focusing on the future of our economy and the middle class."
"That's why we're going to win this race in November," he added.
State voters Tuesday also selected Wendy Long to the Republican ticket to square off against three-year incumbent Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand for U.S. Senate. According to the Associated Press, Long held a double-digit lead over Nassau County comptroller George Maragos and U.S. Rep. Bob Turner late Tuesday night.
"Kirsten Gillibrand said she wants more women in politics," Long said to her supporters. "Tonight we are here to grant her wish."