Republicans poised to maintain control of state Senate

Republicans poised to maintain control of state Senate

Republicans poised to maintain control of state Senate
November 9, 2016

As of early Wednesday morning, state Senate Republicans appeared to have lost no seats to Democrats and picked up one seat in Western New York’s 60th District with the election of Republican candidate Chris Jacobs.

With the state Senate Democrats’ apparent losses in a number of competitive races, it seems likely the state Senate Republican will maintain its control of the state Senate, regardless of the Independent Democratic Conference’s future alignment in the chamber. With Democrat state Sen. Simcha Felder – who votes with the Republican conference – it potentially brings their total to 33 in the 63-seat chamber.

“Tonight, we have grown our majority in the New York State Senate,” Republican state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said in a statement. “We've accomplished a lot on behalf of New Yorkers and their families over the last six years, but there's more to be done. Along with our partners in the IDC, Senate Republicans will continue to lead the way.”

Notably, state Senate Republicans maintained control of nearly all the highly contested Long Island. Republican state Sen. Carl Marcellino won with 46.8 percent of the vote against Democratic candidate James Gaughran’s 45.01 percent of the vote, according to returns posted by the state Board of Elections. Republican Elaine Phillips beat Democrat Adam Haber by about 3 percentage points, with 47.7 percent of the vote, in the race for GOP state Sen. Jack Martins’ open seat.

Democrats were not prepared to concede at least one close race, however. According to the state Board of Election’s website, the closest state Senate race of the night is in the 8th Senate District. Republican Michael Venditto was ahead with just 45.64 percent of the vote. His Democratic opponent John Brooks had 45.28 percent of the vote. Venditto was politically damaged after his father, the longtime Oyster Bay town supervisor, was arrested in October on corruption charges.

Given the close results, state Senate Democrats are not concede every race, suggesting some races could be contested.

“All Senate Democratic incumbents were re-elected by their constituents, including Senators Todd Kaminsky and George Latimer. Additionally, multiple candidates remain in races too close to call, including John Brooks,” state Senate Democratic spokesperson Mike Murphy said in a statement. “When all the votes are counted, we expect that a majority of the sitting Senators will be Democrats and look forward to everyone in the State Democratic party working together to establish a working Democratic Majority.”

The state Senate is the party’s one remaining bastion of statewide influence. State Senate Republicans have held power for decades, apart from a brief exile, and have been in control since regaining the majority in the 2010.

A major reason why state Senate Democrats have failed to regain a majority since 2010 is the creation of the Independent Democratic Conference, led by state Sen. Jeff Klein, which has aligned with Senate Republicans.

Which conference the IDC ultimately decides to align with after Election Day is even more important now, as its numbers have grown. Democratic state Sen. Jesse Hamilton announced Monday he would join the IDC and IDC state Senate candidate Marisol Alcantara won her election – increasing the conference’s numbers to seven.

When asked previously by City & State in August, Klein declined to say who he would align with and has continued to stay mum on the issue.

Ashley Hupfl