In a race that became a referendum on public safety and criminal justice reform, defense attorney Lee Kindlon is the projected winner over Albany County District Attorney David Soares Tuesday in a Democratic primary race, but Soares said they are still waiting for more votes to be counted.

"It’s going to be a new kind of DA’s office," Kindlon said in an interview with Spectrum News 1 after the polls closed Tuesday. 

Soares was losing to Kindlon 55% to 45% with 97% of the expected vote counted early Wednesday morning in his bid for a sixth four-year term. 

Soares did not concede late Tuesday. He said his message resonated with the public.

"The people of Albany County will eventually speak. I don’t believe they have spoken yet. One way or another, we will respect the voices of Albany County," Soares said.

Kindlon ran a campaign focused on integrity. He criticized Soares for giving himself a more than $22,000 bonus with grant money meant for staff retention. Kindlon said the episode inspired him to run. 

Soares, a 20-year incumbent, said no laws were broken and he returned the money. But Kindlon also challenged him on the issue of crime, calling it the DA's legacy.

Soares became an outspoken critic of some of the party's criminal justice reforms. 

He blamed what he called a broken criminal justice system made worse by bail reform and state lawmakers in Albany. He said the "Raise the Age" law lacks consequences and changes were needed at the state level. 

Kindlon called Soares' criticism of bail reform "misguided fearmongering."

The contest divided Albany County Democrats into separate camps, with Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, Mayor Kathy Sheehan and other Albany Democrats publicly endorsing Kindlon. Soares received endorsements from Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, former Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings and law enforcement groups and unions.

Only registered Democrats could vote in Tuesday's primary election.

The winner of Tuesday's primary will face Republican candidate Ralph Ambrosio on Nov. 5.

There were 211,056 enrolled voters in Albany County at the end of February, including 104,082 Democrats, 37,505 Republicans and 56,619 independents, according to the state Board of Elections.