SYRACUSE | U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle contacted Democratic challenger Dan Maffei Friday to concede the 24th Congressional District race.
Buerkle, R-Onondaga Hill, held a press conference Friday outside of the James Hanley Federal Building in Syracuse to announce her decision.
While there are as many as 21,500 absentee ballots to count, Maffei leads by 14,388 votes. Buerkle would need to pick up nearly 18,000 votes from the absentees in order to overtake Maffei and win the race.
Buerkle acknowledged that the race is out of reach.
"Considering the number of absentee and affidavit ballots, it appears that we cannot overcome the large gap created by President Obama's overwhelming victory in Onondaga County," she said.
Buerkle mentioned Maffei by name once, but she had more to say about Green Party candidate Ursula Rozum.
Buerkle and Rozum saw plenty of each other on the campaign trail as both candidates participated in four joint town hall meetings and four televised debates.
On Friday, Buerkle praised Rozum on her campaign.
"She and I had many opportunities to discuss issues from very different perspectives," Buerkle said. "It is these discussions and this willingness to debate the issues that will lead to resolving the problems our country faces.
"I applaud her for running a positive campaign and for having the courage of her convictions."
After Buerkle finished her remarks, she left without taking questions.
Buerkle's loss comes two years after she pulled off an upset win, defeating Maffei — the incumbent representative at the time — by 648 votes in the 25th Congressional District race.
This time around, Maffei benefited from having President Barack Obama on the ticket. Obama won three of the four counties in the new 24th Congressional District. He won Onondaga County by nearly 40,000 votes.
Maffei also had success in Onondaga County, winning by nearly 23,000 votes.
Onondaga County Republican Chairman Tom Dadey said he wasn't sure if Buerkle plans on running again in 2014, but believes the GOP can do in two years what it did in 2010 — beat Maffei.
"The only two times he has won are in a presidential election (year)," Dadey said, referring to Maffei's wins in 2008 and 2012. "I believe he is only renting this chair for the next two years and that he will lose in 2014."