Sen. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, has declared victory this afternoon in his razor-close GOP rimary battle against Neil Di Carlo.

“Given the outcome of the absentee ballot count, I am honored and gratified the Republican voters have supported and selected me to serve as their candidate,” Saland said in a statement. “As with each and every election I have entered, I will work hard to gain the support of the general electorate, as I wholeheartedly believe it is critically important to represent all of the people, regardless of party affiliation.”

It’s not a wholly surprising development, given that Saland was leading in the absentee ballot count after this month’s primary election, but it is an important one for Senate Republicans, given the concern that Di Carlo’s gaining of Row B would give Democratic candidate Terry Gipson an edge in winning this November.

Saland’s campaign and Senate Republicans also touted their absentee ballot program and targeting of specific voters in the lawmaker’s first serious party primary.

It is also a major victory for proponents of same-sex marriage after Saland’s “yes” vote for the legalization last year. Saland was one four Senate Republicans to back the bill, but he had a starring role in crafting the relgious protection clauses in the measure.

Di Carlo is the apparent winner of a write-in campaign for the Conservative Party’s ballot.

“This election was won with the help, generosity and support of many and my heartfelt thanks go out to all of those who contributed to this victory,” Saland said.