Democrat wins special election for Rep. Brian Higgins's seat in New York

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New York state Sen. Timothy Kennedy, a Democrat, has won the Empire State’s special election to fill retired Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins’s seat in Congress, according to a projection from Decision Desk HQ.

Kennedy defeated Republican Gary Dickson in New York’s 26th Congressional district for the seat, which was expected to stay in Democratic hands — but the race still drew scrutiny as the GOP grapples with a razor-thin majority.

Both candidates were picked by local party officials to be their respective nominees for the special election. Kennedy will serve out the rest of Higgins’s unexpired term. 

Higgins resigned from Congress this February after nearly two decades in the House, citing growing dysfunction and the “slow and frustrating” pace of progress in D.C., and now serves as president and CEO of Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. The longtime lawmaker was among a number of House members who announced they wouldn’t seek reelection amid frustration with chaos on Capitol Hill. 

The New York district runs along the Niagara River, including the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls. A 2022 mass shooting in Buffalo prompted Kennedy to champion gun safety legislation in the New York state Senate. 

Dickson, the GOP contender in Tuesday’s special election, was the first Republican elected as a town supervisor in decades in West Seneca. 

Kennedy will finish the rest of the year in Higgins’s seat – but the Democrat is also on the November ballot to take on a full term in the House, according to the New York State Board of Elections. 

The election comes as former President Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is on trial in Manhattan. In the first of Trump’s four criminal indictments to go before a jury, he faces felony charges of falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment made during the 2016 cycle. 

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