Updated: New York’s 2018 state legislative special election results

Shelley Mayer campaigning
Shelley Mayer campaigning
Seth Wenig/AP/REX/Shutterstock
Democratic Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer talked to people in a diner while campaigning in Mamaroneck.

Updated: New York’s 2018 state legislative special election results

Mayer and Sepulveda won, Democrats picked up an Assembly seat, and two Assembly races were extremely close.
April 26, 2018

Polling places have closed for the special elections to fill 11 legislative victories, and the results came in as more of a flood than a trickle – or perhaps a blue wave. The biggest race of the night was in Westchester County, where Democratic Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer declared victory over Republican Julie Killian. The outcome could affect the balance of the state Senate, although not as quickly as some had hoped.

There was a party change from red to blue, which could be a sign of Democratic enthusiasm in the November midterm elections. Steve Stern handily won a Suffolk County Assembly seat long held by Republicans, and Mayer’s wide margin of victory indicated strong Democratic turnout. 

Meanwhile, in two Assembly races - to replace Rensselaer County Executive Steven McLaughlin and EPA Region 2 Regional Administrator Peter Lopez - the top candidates were separated by only a few hundred votes late on Tuesday night. And in another Assembly contest, a Democrat beat another Democrat by running on the Republican line. 

Here is a guide to the 11 races decided tonight, with preliminary results from the state Board of Elections (posted here) and other county boards of election.

Senate District 37

Shelley Mayer: 58%
Julie Killian: 42%

With 277 out of 315 election districts reporting.

Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer declared victory Tuesday night, allowing Democrats to get back to their numerical majority of 32 seats. However, one of those 32 Democratic members is state Sen. Simcha Felder, who caucuses with the Republicans. Earlier on Tuesday, Felder said that he would continue to caucus with state Senate Republicans, arguing that it would be better resolve the matter after the end of session in June.

In her statement declaring victory, Mayer notably thanked Gov. Andrew Cuomo – who is facing a primary challenge on his left flank from Cynthia Nixon – and state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the newly unified Democratic conference. Many in New York’s political circles believed that the race between Mayer and Killian would be closer than it was, potentially signifying trouble for Republicans statewide heading into the November elections.

“This race was was about finally bringing a Democratic majority to the State Senate so that New York can once again be a progressive leader we can – and should – be,” Mayer said in her statement. “It was about the strength and energy of a big tent-Democratic Party where labor, Indivisibles, activists come together to fight for our shared values. It was about rejecting Trumpism and standing tall against bigotry as we fight for women's rights, victims of sexual misconduct, environmental protections, and common-sense gun control.”

Julie Killian, the Republican candidate and a former Rye city councilwoman, fell short in a bid to flip the seat vacated by current Westchester County Executive George Latimer, a Democrat. A victory by Killian would have given Republicans in the state Senate an outright majority of 32 seats. 

Now, Democrats will look to the fall elections to try to pick up another seat or more, which will be critical for the party if Felder continues to stick with Republicans post-session.

Senate District 32

Luis Sepulveda: 89%
Patrick Delices: 2%
Pamela Stewart-Martinez: 7%

With 215 out of 219 election districts reporting.

Unlike the race in Westchester, the competition to fill current New York City Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr.’s vacant seat in the Bronx was over before it started. Democratic Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda won the heavily Democratic district with nearly 90 percent of the vote. Patrick Delices, the Republican nominee, received 2 percent and Reform Party candidate Pamela Stewart-Martinez did slightly better with 7 percent.

Assembly District 5

Deborah Slinkosky: 37%
Douglas Smith: 63%

With all election districts reporting. 

Former Long Island Republican Assemblyman Al Graf has moved on to become a district court judge, and Graf's former aide, Doug Smith, won the vacant seat. The Republican had a decisive victory over his Democratic opponent, former Sachem School Board member Deborah Slinkosky, with 63 percent of the vote.

Assembly District 10

Steve Stern: 59%
Janet Smitelli: 41%

With all election districts reporting. 

Former Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern, a Democrat, flipped this Assembly seat from red to blue with 58 percent of the vote. Attorney Janet Smitelli, the Republican nominee, received 42 percent of the vote. Former Long Island Republican Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci was elected Huntington town supervisor in November, and Democrats in Suffolk County were able to make a successful play for his former seat.

Assembly District 17

Matthew Malin: 36%
John Mikulin: 63%

With all election districts reporting.

Republican John Mikulin easily dispatched Democrat Matthew Malin in this Long Island district. Mikulin succeeds current Nassau County Legislator Thomas McKevitt, a fellow Republican, keeping the district in GOP hands. 

Assembly District 39

Ari Espinal: 91%

With 54 out of 56 election districts reporting. 

Espinal, a former aide to New York City Councilman Francisco Moya, ran unopposed for her old boss’s seat in the Assembly. However, Catalina Cruz, a DREAMer who served as chief of staff to former city Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, is aiming to take on Espinal in the September Democratic primary. She has been endorsed by Ferreras-Copeland and former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Assembly District 74

Harvey Epstein: 90%
Bryan Cooper: 5%
Adrienne Craig-Williams: 2%
Juan Pagan: 2%

With 104 out of 107 election districts reporting. 

Housing activist Harvey Epstein won the special election with 90 percent of the vote. This seat was vacated in November when former Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh was sworn in as a state senator. Epstein, the widely-endorsed Democratic candidate, was expected to win the race. Republican Bryan Cooper garnered 5 percent of the vote, and Adrienne Craig-Williams on the Green Party line and Juan Pagan on the Reform Party line received 2 percent each.

Assembly District 80

Nathalia Fernandez: 81%
Gene Defrancis: 18%

With all election districts reporting. 

Nathalia Fernandez, the former chief of staff to now-New York City Councilman Mark Gjonaj, won Gjonaj’s former Assembly seat, in another example of a staffer stepping in to fill a former employer’s vacancy. She defeated Republican Gene Defrancis with 81 percent of the vote.

Assembly District 102

Aidan S. O’Connor, Jr.: 44.32%
Christopher Tague: 45.87%
Wesley D. Laraway: 9.71%

With all election districts reporting. 

As of late Tuesday night, this race was incredibly close, with Democrat Aidan O’Connor trailing Republican Schoharie Supervisor Christopher Tague by 288 votes, or just over a single percentage point. (Tague had 8,547 votes to O'Connor's 8,259, according to unofficial results posted by the state Board of Elections.) Independent Wes Laraway garnered nearly 10 percent of the vote, acting as a spoiler in the race. Republican Peter Lopez left this GOP-leaning Greene County seat to become the Region 2 regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency in October.

Assembly District 107

Cynthia Doran: 49.02%
Jacob C. Ashby: 50.84%

With all election districts reporting. 

In another race that is down to the wire, two Rensselaer County legislators are seeking to succeed former Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, who's now the county executive – and only a few hundred votes separated them on Tuesday night. Second-term Legislator Cindy Doran, the Democratic nominee, was trailing Republican first-term Legislator Jake Ashby by 280 votes (Ashby with 7,797 votes, Doran with 7,517, according to preliminary state Board of Elections results), but Doran had yet to concede.

Doran’s campaign manager, Amy O’Connor, said that the race was still too close to call with almost 1,000 absentee and affidavit ballots returned. Opening and processing these ballots begins Friday in Rensselaer County. Meanwhile, Ashby said on Wednesday that he was “confident we’ll retain the win.”

Assembly District 142

Patrick B. Burke: 47%
Eric T. Bohen: 52%

With all election districts reporting. 

Bohen has won the race with 52 percent of the vote, but beyond the numbers, the victory isn’t cut and dried. Although Burke was the Democratic nominee, both candidates are Democrats, while Bohen ran on the Republican line. However, Bohen has said he would caucus with the Democrats if he were elected. His strategy isn’t unprecedented – Democrat Michael Kearns, who left the Assembly to serve as Erie County clerk, won this seat in a special election in 2012 by running on the Republican line.

Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Catalina Cruz as a DACA recipient. Though she arrived in the country as an undocumented minor and so is considered a DREAMer, she arrived before the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program was enacted in 2012.

Grace Segers
is City & State’s digital reporter. She writes daily content on New York City and New York state politics.
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