News10NBC Investigates: Long Island place-holder candidate for Rochester judge can’t believe her votes

An interview with the placeholder candidate who almost won

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The outsider candidate for judge who almost pulled off the mother of all upsets spoke exclusively with News10NBC.

We warned you about this race before the election. The Democratic candidate for Supreme Court judge was a placeholder candidate. She was on the ballot here to get her name off the ballot on Long Island after she suffered a stroke.

But despite not campaigning, she came within a few thousand votes of winning.

Berkeley Brean: “At what point Tuesday night, did you start to think — ‘uh oh! I might win this thing?'”
Margot Garant, candidate for state Supreme Court: “You know, honestly I wasn’t even paying attention. I was really paying more attention to the local races here.”

But then Margot Garant checked the vote count.

“I said ‘Jesus!’ I couldn’t really believe it,” she said.

Click here to watch our original story on this race

This Democratic Long Island mayor and lawyer was in second place in Monroe County and getting thousands of votes throughout the Finger Lakes.

The top two candidates win, and Garant came within 9,000 votes.

So how did we get here?

Garant’s name was on the ballot for town supervisor on Long Island. But in late June she suffered a stroke and had to drop out of the race.

One of the only ways to get her name off the Long Island ballot was to place it on a different ballot. The Democratic line for state Supreme Court was open because there was no local candidate, and the Monroe County Democratic Party put Garant’s name down as a courtesy.

Brean: “What if you had won?”
Margot Garant: “Well, if I had won I intended on going up there and serving.”

She got married in July.

“I put everything in storage. I said if I have to go and serve up there I’ll do that and get a little house up there and just commute for a while,” she said with a laugh.

The state Supreme Court term is 14 years.

Brean: “So even though you were kind of a placeholder candidate and didn’t campaign, you were prepared to serve as a judge up here.”
Garant: “Yeah.”

Brean: “Why do you think so many people voted for you?”
Garant: “I don’t know. I think they really want some change and I think they want equality in the law. I just think I would have enjoyed being a judge up there. It would have been fun.”

Garant says she’s about 85 percent healed from her stroke. She has a final test near Thanksgiving.

Placeholder candidates are not uncommon and they’re not illegal, but they don’t almost win. If a place-holder wins but doesn’t want to serve, they can refuse to take the oath of office. That leaves the position open and it would go up for election again the next year.