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Alice Cancel Wins Sheldon's Silver Former Assembly Seat

 Alice Cancel, flanked by her supporters at the LES Democratic Club, celebrates her win.
Alice Cancel, flanked by her supporters at the LES Democratic Club, celebrates her win.
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DNAinfo/Irene Plagianos

LOWER MANHATTAN — Democratic candidate Alice Cancel won a tight race in the special election for disgraced former Assemblyman Sheldon Silver's 65th District seat.

The win comes after controversy swirled around the candidate since she was chosen to run for the election in February by a group of less than 200 Democratic party leaders, many of whom still had strong connections to Silver.

According to the state Board of Elections, Cancel has 39.21 percent of the vote, compared to Yuh-Line Niou, the Working Party Families candidate's 33.64 percent, with all 98 districts reporting as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the special election — held on the same day as the closely watched New York presidential primary — to fill the seat left vacant by Silver, who represented Lower Manhattan for 35 years before he was found guilty of corruption charges related to two separate bribery schemes.

Recently unsealed evidence also showed that Silver had extramarital affairs with two different women who had business with the state.

Cancel is a longtime Democratic district leader with deep ties to Lower Manhattan's overwhelmingly Democratic voting population.

"I won because my community supported me," Cancel said, surrounded by a small group of supporters at the Lower East Side Democratic Club. "And I won to serve them."

The Democrat, who works for Comptroller Scott Stringer — though Stringer gave his endorsement to Niou for the seat — had the backing of Downtown Democratic organizations that supported Silver, as well as the endorsement of Lower Manhattan Councilwoman Margaret Chin.

Niou, a Financial District resident and the chief of staff for Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim, withdrew from the Democratic race after calling the election flawed and instead ran as a splinter candidate for the Working Families Party, positioning herself as a politician for reform. 

Along with Stringer's endorsement, Niou was also endorsed by State Senator Daniel Squadron, the New York Times and others.

The win may be fleeting, however. The new assemblywoman will still have to face a primary election in September and general election in November to keep her seat.

Lester Chang, a businessman and naval reservist who grew up in Chinatown, ran as the Republican candidate and earned 15.04 percent of the vote.

A fourth candidate, Dennis Levy, an advocate for legalizing marijuana, ran as the Green Party candidate. He won 3.56 percent of the vote.