WELLSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – Joe Sempolinski is heading to Congress for the next four months.
The Steuben County Republican Party chairman won a special election Tuesday to fill the seat representing New York’s 23rd District, which was vacated in May when Tom Reed resigned.
Sempolinski held off a stronger-than-expected challenge from Democrat Max Della Pia in one of the state’s reddest districts. He led by almost 5,000 votes with 95% of precincts reporting when the Associated Press called the race.
Sempolinski’s term representing the Southern Tier from Chautauqua County to Elmira will run through the end of the year. Then, he will be replaced by the winner of the November general election for the redrawn 23rd district, which also includes southern and eastern Erie County.
Sempolinski has said he will not run for the seat even as the incumbent. The winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary election for this district — which appears to be Nick Langworthy — will advance to the November general election for a term that begins Jan. 3, 2023.
Despite losing the special election Tuesday, Della Pia will be back on the ballot in November running for the next term. The Tioga County Democratic Committee chairman and Air Force veteran is expected to face long odds in the Republican-leaning district, which was redrawn even redder than before.
Sempolinski, an Elmira native, previously led Reed’s New York-based staff for the 23rd district. He also spent time as the Director of Development at Archbishop Walsh Academy in Olean.
Sempolinksi’s website describes himself as “a proud constitutional conservative” who believes “the Biden administration is leading us to an economic disaster.”
“Restoring the economy of the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier will be Joe’s top priority as Congressman,” his site reads.
Sempoliski and his wife, a public school teacher, have two daughters.
Della Pia took an early lead after polls closed and was ahead most of the night, though Sempolinski slowly closed the gap as election night results continued to come in. Sempolinski finally took the lead around 11:15 p.m. with about 80% of precincts reporting, and expanded the gap throughout the rest of the night.
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.