As voters cast their ballots across the state today, they’ll decide the winners of a number of tossup congressional races and the fate of a handful or so of state Senate seats that will determine control of Albany’s upper house. Here’s a snapshot of some of the most closely watched races around New York — with a one-sided U.S. Senate race and a crowded New York City Council special election to boot.
Key Congressional Races
1st Congressional District
Rep. Tim Bishop (D, WFP) vs. Randy Altschuler (R, C, I)
The battle for the eastern end of Long Island was leaning toward Rep. Tim Bishop back in mid-September, when a Siena College poll showed the incumbent with a double-digit lead over his Republican challenger, Randy Altschuler. Bishop’s 51 percent to 39 percent lead in that poll is far stronger than his 2010 showing against Altschuler, a businessman, when the race was decided only by several hundred votes. However, the race has likely narrowed in the weeks since then, and Republican polls have even showed Altschuler with the lead.
11th Congressional District
Rep. Michael Grimm (R, C) vs. Mark Murphy (D, WFP)
For all the legal questions swirling around Rep. Michael Grimm, including allegations of campaign finance fraud in 2010, the incumbent still has the support of a majority of the voters in his district, which includes all of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn. Mark Murphy, the Democratic challenger and the son of a congressman who left office amid ethics troubles of his own, has failed to capitalize on the steady stream of bad news for Grimm, trailing him by 18 points in a Nov. 1 Siena poll. Murphy, a former actor, also has failed to keep pace with fundraising, though his campaign is hoping for union support to close the gap.
18th Congressional District
Rep. Nan Hayworth (R, C) vs. Sean Patrick Maloney (D, WFP)
Nan Hayworth holds a seven-point lead in the lower Hudson Valley district, according to an Oct. 19 Siena College poll, with 49 percent of voters backing her compared to 42 percent for Sean Patrick Maloney, a former adviser to then-President Bill Clinton. While Maloney lags behind Hayworth, he’s gained ground since September, when he was down by 13 points and didn’t yet have the Working Families Party line. Hayworth, a retired ophthalmologist who was swept into office two years ago on a wave of Tea Party discontent, has since portrayed herself as a centrist. Maloney has tried to paint her as a hardcore conservative in the Democratic-leaning district.
19th Congressional District
Rep. Chris Gibson (R, C, I) vs. Julian Schreibman (D, WFP)
Rep. Chris Gibson has consistently held a lead in the polls over Julian Schreibman, an attorney and a former federal prosecutor, ranging from a 16-point lead in a Sept. 21 Siena poll to a narrow two-point lead in a poll conducted by the Democratic Party. An Oct. 30 Siena poll indicated a narrowing gap, with only a five-point lead for Gibson. Gibson, a first-term Republican who won in 2010 with close to 55 percent of the vote, has also held a sizeable fundraising advantage, though Schreibman has outraised Gibson in recent months.
23rd Congressional District
Rep. Tom Reed (R, C, I) vs. Nate Shinagawa (D, WFP)
Rep. Tom Reed is facing a challenge from Nate Shinagawa, the vice chairman of the Tompkins County Legislature. Reed won fairly comfortably two years ago with over 56 percent of the vote, but Shinagawa has been raising more money than Reed’s last opponent and a Public Policy Polling poll showed Shinagawa only five points behind the incumbent.
24th Congressional District
Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R, C, I) vs. Dan Maffei (D, WFP)
The rematch between Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle and former congressman Dan Maffei is one of the closest races in the state, with a Nov. 3 Siena poll showing them even at 44 percent each. In 2010, Buerkle eked out a narrow win over Maffei, knocking him out of office with strong Tea Party support. Maffei is polling better in Syracuse, while Buerkle outperforms him outside of the city. A wild card in the race is Green Party candidate Ursula Rozum, who had the support of eight percent of voters in the latest Siena poll, while three percent remained undecided.
25th Congressional District
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D, WFP) vs. Maggie Brooks (R, C, I)
Maggie Brooks, the popular Monroe County executive, lost ground in what had appeared to be a narrowing race with Rep. Louise Slaughter. In an Oct. 14 Siena poll, Slaughter led 49 percent to 44 percent, down from a ten-point lead in an earlier poll. By early November, however, Brooks was again down by ten points. Brooks will have to again steal support in Rochester, Slaughter’s stronghold, and rally supporters outside of the city.
27th Congressional District
Rep. Kathy Hochul (D, WFP) vs. Chris Collins (R, C)
Rep. Kathy Hochul, who was elected to Congress in a surprise special election victory last year, is fighting hard to hold onto her seat in a western New York district that has become more Republican thanks to redistricting. Her strong campaigning has made the race one of the most competitive in the state, with a Nov. 4 Siena poll showing her essentially in a tie with former Erie County Executive Chris Collins, with 47 percent support compared to 48 percent for Collins. Though a majority of voters in the district support Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for president, this congressional race has been neck and neck for weeks.
Key State Senate Races
Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D, WFP) vs. Eric Ulrich (R, C, I)
A handful of state Senate races could determine which party ends up controlling the chamber next year, and one of the closes ones had long been Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr.’s seat in Queens. New York City Councilman Eric Ulrich, a rising star in the Republican Party, has waged a strong campaign, and an Oct. 8 Siena poll showed the two candidates nearly even, with Addabbo at 45 percent and Ulrich 43 percent, despite a sizeable Democratic advantage in the district. But there were a number of undecided voters at the time of the poll, and it’s unclear how much Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s endorsement of Addabbo and the devastation of Hurricane Sandy to parts of the district where Ulrich was supposed to perform strongly could improve the incumbent’s chances.
Sen. Martin Golden (R, C, I) vs. Andrew Gounardes (D, WFP)
State Sen. Marty Golden, who has served in the Senate since 2002, is facing a spirited challenge in his Brooklyn district from Andrew Gounardes, an attorney. Golden is often mentioned as a top target for Democrats, since he’s one of only two Republican senators who represent New York City. But even after the uproar over an event Golden’s office had planned to teach women “the feminine presence,” Golden still has a strong fundraising lead and secured several key union endorsements, including 1199 SEIU.
Bob Cohen (R, C, I) vs. George Latimer (D, WFP)
One of a handful of races where Republicans have a shot at stealing a seat in the state Senate is in Westchester County, where Assemblyman George Latimer is squaring off against Bob Cohen, a businessman, for the seat held by retiring Democratic Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer. An Oct. 3 Siena poll showed a close race, with 44 percent of voters supporting Latimer and 41 percent for Cohen. Latimer’s team has dredged up lawsuits filed against Cohen for being a slumlord, which Cohen’s campaign has vigorously denied.
Sen. Greg Ball (R, C, I) vs. Justin Wagner (D, WFP, Green)
One of the strangest Senate races is between state Sen. Greg Ball and the challenger, Justin Wagner, a lawyer and Democratic district leader. The Hudson Valley race has featured name-calling (the Ball campaign refers to their opponent as “Wacky Wagner”), competing dance videos, and squabbles over which one is taking a stronger stand on hydrofracking. Wagner’s fundraising totals in the Hudson Valley district – which includes parts of Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester counties – haven’t been as large as his opponent’s, but they’ve picked up in the closing weeks of the campaign.
Cecilia Tkaczyk (D, WFP, Green) vs. George Amedore Jr. (R, C, I)
The new 46th Senate District was created during redistricting in what was widely seen as a controversial move by Republicans to help hold onto its majority – and it was also seen as tailor-made for businessman George Amedore to run in. While Amedore has a huge fundraising lead in the race – a 4-to-1 advantage a month before the election – Democrats have targeted the race as one they are serious about competing in. A Siena poll last week showed Amedore with a close, three-point lead, while Tkaczyk’s backers have been urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to endorse her.
District 1: Sen. Ken LaValle (R, C, I) vs. Bridget Fleming (D, WFP)
District 4: Sen. Philip Boyle (R, C, I) vs. Ricardo Montano (D, WFP)
District 6: Sen. Kemp Hannon (R, C, I) vs. Ryan Cronin (D, WFP)
Democrats have long been hopeful that they can steal a seat or two in Long Island, given its changing demographics, and this year is no different. Republicans, who hold all of the state Senate seats in Suffolk and Nassau counties, won’t be giving them up easily, but Democrats say that Ryan Cronin, a lawyer, may have a shot at upsetting the veteran Sen. Kemp Hannon in Nassau County, while Sen. Philip Boyle and Sen. Ken LaValle are also facing tough challenges in Suffolk County.
Stephen Saland (R, I) vs. Terry Gipson (D, WFP) vs. Neil DiCarlo (C)
Sen. Stephen Saland, who represents parts of Dutchess and Putnam counties, narrowly won his primary race after a historic vote for same-sex marriage last year. He now faces his primary challenger, Neil DiCarlo, who’s still on the Conservative line, as well as Democrat Terry Gipson. Saland, one of four Republicans to vote for same-sex marriage, has been bolstered by campaign contributions from the gay community and also won the backing of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Ted O’Brien (D, WFP) vs. Sean Hanna (R, C, I)
Sen. James Alesi, one of the four GOP senators to support same-sex marriage, declined to run for re-election, though the reason likely had more to do with an ill-considered lawsuit he filed after trespassing on a constituent’s property. The race between Ted O’Brien, a county legislator, and Assemblyman Sean Hanna has focused on other issues. A Nov. 2 Siena poll showed O’Brien with an 11-point lead, reversing a lead for Hanna in a poll a month before, due perhaps to a Democratic enrollment edge in the district.
Kathy Marchione (R, C) vs. Robin Andrews (D) vs. Roy McDonald (I)
Another Republican senator who voted for same-sex marriage was Sen. Roy McDonald, a vote that played a role in his primary loss against Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione. McDonald declined to run on the Independence Party line, despite an offer from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to endorse his campaign, though he is still on the ballot, which could play a factor in the race. In fact, a Siena poll showed Marchione with 40 percent support and McDonald with 29 percent. Democrat Robin Andrews, a lesbian who married her partner after the passage of same-sex marriage, had the support of 25 percent of voters in the poll.
Charles Swanick (C), vs. Mark Grisanti (R, I) vs. Michael Amodeo (D) vs. Gregory Davis (WFP)
Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti of Buffalo voted for same-sex marriage, though his vote has made him less vulnerable so far than any of the other three GOP senators to vote for the legislation. Part of that is due to the candidacy of Charles Swanick, who was backed by key Democratic leaders, failed to secure the Democratic nomination, and then stayed in the race after Michael Amodeo won the Democratic line. An Oct. 8 Siena poll put Grisanti at 47 percent, Amodeo at 23 percent, Swanick at 17 percent, and a Green Party candidate at 6 percent in the Erie County district.
Other Key Races
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) vs. Wendy Long (R)
Gillibrand is cruising toward victory in her first run for a full six-year term, thanks to greater name recognition over the little-known Long, Democratic voters and a huge advantage in campaign cash. An Oct. 26 Siena College poll showed that 67 percent of voters – including most independents and even a third of Republican voters – support the Democratic incumbent, compared to 24 percent for Long. Long has raised under a million dollars while Gillibrand raked in more than $15 million. Long has tried to make up ground by attacking Gillibrand for her vote for the 2009 federal stimulus and by pushing for hydrofracking, but the tactics don’t seem to be making a dent.
New York City Council Special Election
Andy King vs. Neville Mitchell vs. Pamela Johnson vs. Joseph Nwachukwu vs. Cheryl Simmons-Oliver vs. Garth Marchant
Six candidates in the 12th Council District are running in the non-partisan race to replace disgraced Councilman Larry Seabrook, who was convicted of a $1.5 million fraud in July and removed from office. Andy King, a community activist and former union organizer who earned the most votes against Seabrook in the 2009 Democratic primary, has raised the most of any of the candidates, including a number of union contributions.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story cited a Siena College poll for the 1st Congressional District and incorrectly said the poll was from October. In fact, it was from September.
Tags: Andrew Gounardes, Andy King, Ann Marie Buerkle, Bob Cohen, bridget fleming, Cecilia Tkaczyk, charles swanick, Cheryl Simmons-Oliver, Chris Collins, Chris Gibson, City Council, Congress, Dan Maffei, Eric Ulrich, Garth Marchant, george amedore, George Latimer, Greg Ball, Gregory Davis, Joseph Addabbo, Joseph Nwachukwu, Julian Schreibman, Justin Wagner, Kathy Hochul, Kathy Marchione, Kemp Hannon, Ken LaValle, Kirsten Gillibrand, Louise Slaughter, Maggie Brooks, Mark Grisanti, Mark Murphy, Martin Golden, Michael Amodeo, Michael Grimm, Nan Hayworth, Nate Shinagawa, Neil DiCarlo, Neville Mitchell, Pamela Johnson, Philip Boyle, Randy Altschuler, Ricardo Montano, Robin Andrews, Roy McDonald, Ryan Cronin, Sean Hanna, Sean Patrick Maloney, Senate, state senate, Stephen Saland, Ted O'Brien, Terry Gipson, Tim Bishop, Tom Reed, Wendy Long