After a taxing congressional campaign, Democrat Nate McMurray came out to chanting supporters Tuesday night and told them it looked like the campaign was going to come up a little bit short.

His staff cried. His family cried. The candidate fought back his own tears.

I, frankly, was a little bit surprised. The results, which came in sporadically throughout the night on the state Board of Elections website, particularly from Erie County, seemed to indicate incumbent Republican Chris Collins was winning but it was close.

The McMurray campaign told me they hoped they were wrong but were pretty confident the race was over. Several hours later, things changed, as McMurray called for a recount with absentee votes still yet to be tabulated and just a few thousand votes separating the two candidates.

One can’t help but wonder if they might have been better off sleeping on it before they conceded the election. McMurray contended it wasn’t technically a concession speech.

To further confuse matters, the Democrat tweeted a cryptic message Wednesday morning, leading reporters to question if he’d reconsidered again.

“I know a lot of you are feeling sadness,” he said. “Please know this: It will pass. Today hurts, because our efforts were so pure. Against all odds, we worked together like family. And we did so with joy. Be of good cheer. Losses are inevitable. But goodness is not. We will fight again!”

That tweet appeared to be deleted shortly afterward. Another post assured supporters the recount would happen and the race is “not over yet.”

Regardless, McMurray will have an uphill battle. The recanvassing, which the Erie County Board of Elections pointed out happens automatically for every election, has already begun with each of the eight individual counties in New York’s 27th Congressional District counting their own. Absentee ballots still need to be counted as well.

“When you have a margin of victory or a margin of lead of around 3,500 votes, it’s going to be very difficult to overcome that margin,” Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr said. “As we see historically, the absentee ballot count usually mirrors the machine votes.”

Collins, meanwhile, has claimed victory and the campaign said in a statement early Wednesday morning, nothing has changed from its perspective. The Republican defiantly criticized the media Tuesday night for not being “kind” to him throughout the campaign.

He continues to face federal charges related to insider trading, with a trial date scheduled for early 2020.

“I’m innocent until proven guilty even though the press convicted me, dismembered me and burned me at the stake,” Collins said.

The congressman said the campaign set a strategy that did not include the media. I found it honest but unusual to hear a candidate admit he actively avoided reporters during a hotly-contested campaign.

Collins did selectively do one-on-one interviews, including ones with the Buffalo News, WIVB-TV and WBEN radio. The campaign did not respond to numerous requests from our station for an interview over the last three months.

“We answer the media when they’re reasonable,” he said.

Collins said he didn’t see a problem with the strategy but it did allow him to carefully craft his message and put the reporters who interviewed him at an immediate disadvantage. Essentially, if an outlet were to ask questions the congressman didn’t like, it could lose access.

It did allow him to run a more grassroots campaign. Rather than talk about the indictment, he generally appeared at small gatherings of supporters, often in the rural areas of the district where he saw very positive results Tuesday night.

Collins said moving forward, he plans to make his schedule public and will be available.

“You want to speak to me, you just make a call. We’ll be there.”

The Board of Elections said it likely won’t have final results until around Thanksgiving. The McMurray campaign did request a judge impound ballots on Election Day after hearing reports of issues with voting machines. That request was denied.